NC still testing flu cases, none confirmed

April 29, 2009 8:20:41 PM PDT
State health officials say there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in North Carolina.The world health organization also has announced a pandemic is imminent and says "all of humanity is under threat when there is a pandemic."

Wednesday evening, state health officials said the state lab has 41 samples. Twenty samples tested negative, 17 are pending, one tested positive for seasonal flu and three tested positive for seasonal flu B.

Officials say they are anticipating delivery of CDC reagents by Thursday and they will hopefully be up and running with new tests by the weekend, allowing states to confirm cases without the CDC. So far the lab is able to keep up with the cases and are not overwhelmed.

Dr. Jeff Engel says North Carolina will be receiving supplies from the national stockpile.

The delivery of the stockpile is a very intense activity because every state has asked for their 25 percent of their allotment of the anti-viral medication and personal protective equipment.

Those supplies will be parceled out to counties based on population in the next few days.

Children and the flu
Not only is the President calling for schools with suspected or confirmed cases to close, he's asking all the nation's schools and parents to prepare for that possibility.

"Parents should also think about contingencies if schools in their areas do temporarily shut down," President Barack Obama said. "Figuring out and planning what their child care situation would be."

The President is asking parents to be prepared for possible school closings and that private day care centers are not an option since they present the same chance for spreading the infection.

In Wake County, school officials are -like health officials- going on the assumption that we will be affected by swine flu.

Parent Joyce Kirby, like most parents, has been giving the idea of a pandemic some thought.

"We need to be able to close schools at the drop of a hat," Kirby said. "The whole country is alarmed. So it's realistic to approach it in that way."

That may mean that employers will have to be flexible according to Kirby.

"Businesses will have to take up the slack and see to it that their employees are able to take off to take care of their kids," she said.

Kirby was pleased to know that Wake school officials are also planning ahead.

On its Web site, the school system notes that it is working closely with the state health department and administrators at each school to monitor any health issues.

It also offers information for parents who are already thinking ahead.

"I would, at the slightest provocation, keep my son home," Kirby said.

Health experts seem to agree that one of the best things parents can do right now -especially for small children- a good demonstration of hand washing technique.

It's vigorous scrub with soap and hot water for about the time it takes to sing happy birthday to yourself twice.

Safe traveling
A Continental flight from Houston to RDU radioed ahead Tuesday night with a sick passenger on board.

EMS checked and treated the patient that person didn't have symptoms of swine flu, but it's the procedure airport officials are prepared to play over again.

"If a passenger presents flu like symptoms we do contact Wake County Emergency Services and they do respond and check the person out to make sure they don't fit the criteria," said Mindy Hamlin with RDU.

As the number of swine flu cases continues to rise across the country, some travelers are taking steps to stay safe.

"I think between the St. Louis airport and connecting in Charlotte we probably saw three people with masks," Missouri resident Mike Suarez said.

The North Carolina state health director says it's not a matter of if, but when we'll have our first confirmed case. Still he says that won't change the way we travel.

"If we have a confirmed case in NC there will be no change in our ports of entry into NC," Engel said. "Regular domestic travel, I don't anticipate any change."

For now airline employees in airports and on flight will be watching for symptoms of swine flu, doing what they can to protect passengers and the crew.

According to the CDC's Web site, flight attendants can isolate a suspected sick traveler. They can also dispense face masks to passengers exhibiting flu symptoms until they can be check out at the gate.

Click here for more information about swine flu

If you think you have flu-like symptoms, you should call your doctor.


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