In April 30 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
The swine-flu outbreak has not reached Kentucky, but health officials are increasing precautions for a virus that has killed 149 people in Mexico and infected at least 64 in the United States.
Kentucky has requested roughly 100,000 anti-viral treatments from a federal stockpile to hold in reserve, and has intensified surveillance in hopes of quickly identifying cases, Public Health Commissioner William Hacker said.
Every U.S. victim has recovered, in contrast to 149 deaths among the 1,600 people in have contracted the flu in Mexico.
The flu has sickened people in Kansas, California, Texas, Ohio and New Jersey. Many had recently visited Mexico. Twenty-eight of the cases were from a school in Queens in New York City whose students had recently visited Mexico for spring break.
The CDC recommended that Americans forgo all "nonessential travel" to Mexico, and the European Union's health commissioner urged Europeans to avoid traveling to the United States or Mexico.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. While swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, sporadic infections have occurred.
Most commonly, those cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs. It's now being passed from person to person, with symptoms similar to a regular flu.
While no cases have been confirmed in Kentucky, the federal government's declaration of a health emergency has led state and local health agencies to increase contacts with hospitals and doctors, who have been put on alert to watch for potential cases.
"Basically, we are taking a proactive stand on swine flu," said Shirley Roberson, Health Educator at Russell County's Lake Cumberland District Health Department (LCDHD). "We're going out distributing information to all Russell County Schools, physician's offices, certified and licensed day cares, nursing homes and Russell County Hospital."
She said LCDHD Health Education and Environmental Departments will continue to distribute information, as it becomes available, via email and fax direct to public facilities.
Roberson urges the public to do three things to reduce the spread of flu and illness: wash hands frequently, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it (or cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands) and finally, if you are sick, please stay home and out of the public.