Swine Flu North Carolina
North Carolina health officials are investigating reports of swine flu cases in the Tar Heel state but there have been no reports of hospitalizations or a serious outbreak of the virus.
With the epicenter of the swine flu cases in Mexico, many of the people infected have recently visited America’s neighbor to the south.
The outbreak has reached near pandemic proportions in the media while U.S. medical professionals urge common sense and are taking steps to prevent its spread.
Northampton County’s Health Director Sue Gay attended a teleconference with State Health Director Jeff Engel yesterday to get the latest on the situation. She wanted to assure the public that everything possible is being done to ensure their health and safety.
According to Gay, the Department of Health set up an Emergency Operation center at the state level yesterday. It is open every day 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a 24- hour call-in number for medical providers.
She said Engel encouraged local health departments to be familiar with North Carolina's pandemic flu plan and the Strategic National Stockpile Plan.
North Carolina has requested 25 percent of its allocation of SNS held antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection devices from the Center for Disease Control Division of Strategic National Stockpile, as a precaution. Swine flu is treated with the antiviral drugs oseltamivir or zanamivir. Delivery is expected within a week.
Engel said the situation is changing frequently and health departments are offered continuous updates by e-mails and conference calls. Information is also being provided to the Department of Public Instruction, Office of Emergency Management and medical providers on a frequent basis.
“There is a tremendous amount of information relevant to the situation on the CDC Web site. Anyone can access the site if they have a computer,” said Gay. That Web address is cdc.gov.
Swine flu is very similar to regular human flu. It is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. It seldom gets transferred from pigs to humans, but sometimes it does.
This bout of swine flu seems to emanate from Mexico and is spreading from human to human according to the CDC. Other cases have been reported in Texas, Kansas, Ohio and California. At this time, all known cases in the U.S. have recovered and only one has been hospitalized.
While no travel restrictions are in place, people who have recently traveled to these states or Mexico who develop flu-like symptoms should contact their health provider and inform them of their travel.
Gay said swine flu is spread just like regular flu, by the coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Sometimes people can get it by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, eyes or nose. “Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get it from eating pork products,” Gay said.
The symptoms are just like regular flu except that nausea, vomiting and diarrhea is sometimes reported along with the other symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People who are symptomatic are contagious up to seven days after they display symptoms. Gay said you should see a doctor as soon as you see any flu symptoms, but if you don’t require medial care you should not go to emergency departments or doctor’s offices just for testing. This will reduce chances for transmission in health care settings.
There are lots of things you can do to keep healthy and prevent any flu. The main thing is to wash your hands frequently, just 15 to 20 seconds to be sure your hands are washed thoroughly. Use alcohol based antibacterial wash if you don’t have soap and water, and clean surfaces that have possibly been exposed. Avoid sick people. Keep hydrated, get plenty of exercise and sleep and eat healthy foods.
If you get the flu, doctors can treat you with antiviral drugs which can lessen the severity and duration of the bug, but you need to start treatment as soon as possible, at least within two days of getting sick.
“When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too,” said Gay.
If you experience any of the following: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting seek medical attention immediately. These could be signs of complications associated with the flu.