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Iowa On Alert For Swine Flu

By Staff | Apr 28, 2009

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is urging Iowans and health care providers to be on alert for swine influenza in humans. As of today, no cases of swine flu have been identified in Iowa; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 20 cases of the disease in the U.S. The confirmed cases are in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas. The U.S. cases appear linked to hundreds of cases reported in Mexico.

Everyone must be alert in this situation,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “A public health emergency has been declared across the country. This means local health departments, health care providers and state health investigators in Iowa and across the nation are all watching closely for any signs of the disease.

The swine influenza virus appears to be spread from one person to another. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food, and a person cannot get swine flu from eating pork products. As with seasonal influenza, Iowans are urged to help prevent the spread of swine flu by taking the following precautions:

* When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve (if you do not have a tissue). Throw used tissues in a trash can.

* After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel.

* If you are ill with a respiratory illness (coughing and sneezing), stay home from work or school so you don’t make others sick.

* Avoid close contact with others who are coughing or appear to be ill.

* Symptoms of swine influenza include fever (greater than 100 F), along with cough, sore throat, headache and body aches, and extreme tiredness. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

If you have recently visited Mexico or areas in the U.S. where swine influenza cases have been confirmed, and develop swine flu symptoms within seven to ten days after your return, it’s important to contact your health care provider, and remind them to contact local public health officials.

Severe illness and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people in Mexico, however cases in the U.S. have been much milder. IDPH continues to work closely with local health departments and the CDC to monitor the situation. If you would like more information about swine influenza, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.

Locally, Palo Alto County Health System and Palo Alto County Public Health staff have been made aware of the state alert and have conducted an in-service for staff to be aware of patients with flu-like symptoms.

Peg McNally, Director of Palo Alto County Public Health commented, “It is still influenza season, and people can have flu-like symptoms without being the specific swine flu influenza. It is important to notify your health care provider if you have traveled to areas that are affected with swine flu and you have the flu like symptoms within 7 – 10 days of travel. When you are making an appointment with Family Practice Clinic, please notify them if you have traveled to the affected areas and are experiencing flu like symptoms.”

For questions on the swine flu, contact Palo Alto County Community Health Services at 712-852-5419 or the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.