Government declares public health emergency

NC health officials monitoring swine flu
April 26, 2009 9:53:25 AM PDT
Public Health leaders in N.C. are monitoring the swine influenza infection cases in five states. The swine flu is usually found in pigs, but the Center for Disease Control says it can affect humans, especially with those who work directly with pigs.

"What we're experiencing is that we have a new strain of influenza that we haven't seen before in humans or animals," said Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Health officials say you cannot get the flu by eating cooked pork.

Officials say while no cases of swine flu have been reported in North Carolina or anywhere in the eastern half of the country, state public health officials are asking North Carolinians to be aware of developments and follow the same precautions taken during flu season.

People who have recently traveled to southern California, Texas or Mexico and develop flu-like symptoms should contact their health provider and inform them of their travel to those areas.

On Sunday, CDC said 20 swine flu cases were reported in five states; including Ohio, California, Texas, Kansas and New York. As of Friday, there were only eight cases confirmed of swine influenza infection in humans, six in California and two in Texas. Only one of the patients identified was reported to have been hospitalized.

On Saturday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed two cases of swine flu in the state. And New York City officials announced that eight students at a high school in Queens probably have swine flu, but they're unsure of the strain type.

A strain of the flu has killed as many as 68 people and sickened more than 1,000 across Mexico.

The World Health Organization chief said Saturday that the strain has "pandemic potential" and it may be too late to contain a sudden outbreak.

North Carolina public health officials began coordinating with regional and local health departments on Friday, to ensure local health providers are informed and up to date with the developing virus.

All providers are being asked to question patients who report having influenza-like illness about any recent travel.

For more information about influenza prevention efforts in North Carolina visit www.epi.state.nc.us.

For more information about the on-going Swine Flu visit www.cdc.gov.


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