Swine flu monitored by Grand County officials; still no cases reported in Colorado | SkyHiNews.com

Swine flu monitored by Grand County officials; still no cases reported in Colorado

Wash hands often, cover coughs, avoid sick people, and if sick, stay home.

This is the main message Grand County Public Health is sending out to the community due to a swine flu outbreak that by Tuesday had made 64 people in the United States sick, a number that more than tripled since Saturday.

Local officials are closely monitoring the outbreak.

Grand County Public Health has notified local health care facilities and Grand County EMS about what to look for when caring for patients that present “flu-like symptoms and/or respiratory distress.”

Swine influenza has been confirmed in California, Texas, Kansas, New York City and Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses occurs regularly in pigs, but if contracted by humans, can spread from person to person. The swine flu cannot be contracted from eating pork.

The illness has led to dozens of reported deaths outside of the United States, primarily in Mexico. The CDC is still investigating to better understand how it is spread and why there are differences in the severity between cases in Mexico and the United States. Yesterday, CDC issued a travel warning recommending that people avoid non-essential travel to Mexico.

Although the Department of Public Health and Environment in Colorado has not reported or documented cases directly associated with the swine influenza outbreak, according to CDPHE statements released Sunday, Gov. Bill Ritter has requested antiviral drugs and masks from the federal national stockpile. About 23,000 courses of the drugs already are available throughout the state, with an expected total of 650,000 to become available. The antiviral drugs are not vaccines, but would be administered upon signs of illness.

“It’s important to understand that at this time, in the United States, the swine flu is acting just like the seasonal flu,” said Colorado Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge at a press conference on Sunday.

“It is a relatively mild disease; all cases have fully recovered,” he said.

According to Public Health Nurse Brene Belew Ladue, the transmission rate of this particular flu ” considered a “smart virus” ” is 37 percent, meaning that in a group in any given room, one person could spread the illness to 37 percent of the group.

Ladue told Grand County commissioners on Tuesday that the World Health Organization has changed the status of this swine flu from stage 3 to stage 4. In context, stage 5 and 6 are considered pandemic, she said.

Grand County Public Health is not recommending any immediate actions for the public other than normal flu precautions to include proper hand washing, covering all coughs, and staying home from work or school if experiencing fever or flu-like symptoms.

The office reports that no swine flu has been detected in Grand County.

Even so, health officials are reminding citizens to be prepared with a 10-day supply of food, water and other necessities in case the flu spreads to become a more severe outbreak.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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