PDT Staff Writer
During the course of Monday night’s Portsmouth City Council Meeting, the superintendent of the City Health Department, Peggy Burton, said she wanted to update Council and those present in chambers on the swine flu issue.
“As you have probably heard by now, there have been 40 confirmed cases (at press time 68 according to national media) of swine flu in the United States including Ohio. One case in Ohio,” Burton said. “But I want to caution everyone not to panic. A pandemic has not been declared, not even an epidemic. We don’t know yet where this is going but we do know that other Ohio counties have suspect cases, but nothing confirmed at this time.”
Burton said all cases that are being investigated are associated with people who have traveled to Mexico.
A 9-year-old Elyria third grader is recuperating from the flu which he contracted after traveling several cities in Mexico.
School officials closed Ely Elementary School for the week at the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The virus is contagious and spreads from human to human just like the seasonal flu virus, just by coughing, sneezing, or touching something with the flu virus on it, then touching your eyes or your mouth or your nose,” Burton said. “So unless we have cases here we just recommend that people follow good hygiene practices.”
Burton said those practices include hand washing, throwing tissues away after each use, people coughing into their sleeve, and she recommended staying home from school if someone becomes symptomatic.
“We like to recommend that if this should start to occur here, most cases here (the U.S.) have been mild with easy recovery, unlike in Mexico that have been severe and (resulting in) death,” Burton said. “If this does occur and you have mild symptoms don’t clog the health care system. Because I think, in fact, all cases in the United States have been untreated at this point and people have recovered without anti-virals or anything like that.”
Burton said unless people have an underlying medical condition or symptoms become severe, they should see their physician and let their physician evaluate and apply treatment.
Burton said everyone involved in the situation is keeping information current and it is being passed on to the public.
So what are the symptoms of swine flu?
The Center for Disease Control gives this answer: “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. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.