Monday, April 27, 2009

Local officials monitoring swine flu situation

The following news release was issued this afternoon by the city of Joplin:

Local community and public officials from area healthcare providers and agencies are monitoring the recent outbreak of Swine Flu in the United States and Mexico.

Presently, the state of Missouri has no confirmed cases. If and when swine flu cases are reported here, information will be provided to the public, as local officials are working closely with the Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are keeping response partners fully updated on this developing situation.

Dan Pekarek, Director of the Joplin Health Department, participated in a press conference with other representatives of local health agencies and providers to provide information to local news media in an effort to educate the general public in southwest Missouri.

Pekarek advises citizens to be aware of this situation and practice good personal hygiene habits. These are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* If you get sick with influenza, health officials recommend that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
* If your child experiences these symptoms, officials recommend that parents keep their children home, so not to infect classmates and others in the schools.

As of 9 a.m. on April 27, CDC has confirmed 20 human cases of swine flu in the U.S., including: California: 7; Kansas: 2; New York City: 8; Ohio: 1; Texas: 2. At this time, all the known cases in the United States have recovered and one has been hospitalized. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with swine influenza viruses.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. CDC has determined that this virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu, however there are two anti-viral medications that physicians may prescribe for treatment.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

If individual experience these symptoms, and have recently traveled to area currently reporting swine flu cases, or have been in direct contact with someone who has, and believe you are becoming ill with influenza-like symptoms, contact your regular healthcare provider for guidance. If recommended to go to your physician’s office or emergency room, please notify registration personnel of your symptoms as soon as you arrive.

Local officials are continuing to watch this situation and will keep the public notified of any new developments. As a general practice, health officials conduct general exercises to rehearse the types of activities that need to be implemented in a widespread community illness. If this situation develops, these plans will be activated and more information will be provided to the public on how to respond.

Questions may be directed to your local health department:

Joplin City Health Department at 417 623-6122

Jasper County Health Department at 417-358-3111

Newton County Health Department 417-451-3743

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