DOH continues to monitor for cases of swine flu

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By The Staff

The Florida Department of Health continues enhanced surveillance and outreach to physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals. The surveillance system, consisting of sentinel physicians reporting influenza activity, DOH laboratories receiving specimens from physicians and hospitals and our ability to monitor emergency room cases and over-the-counter drug sales is fully operational. A response plan has been activated and state officials ready to respond to any confirmed cases of swine flu.

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. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

There are currently no school closures in the state of Florida. States with school closures include Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. An estimated 298 schools within these states are closed due to confirmed and probable cases of H1N1. The closures impact 172,264 students and 10,877 teachers. An additional 30 schools in three states (Connecticut, New York and Texas) closed for precautionary measures only.

DOH continues its enhanced surveillance with a network of Sentinel Physician Providers. These providers send selected samples of laboratory specimens to state laboratories for testing if they have patients with influenza like illness (ILI). These physicians also continue to report weekly ILI cases to the Department of Health.

Antivirals have been pre-positioned to areas of potential need. There are currently one-half million individual courses available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 109 confirmed cases of novel influenza in the United States, with one death in a 23-month-old.

The World Health Organization alert level remains at Phase 5. The declaration of a Phase 5 is a strong signal that the pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.

The state surgeon general provided these recommendations:

• People with respiratory illness should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza, to others in the community.

• Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Wash hands frequently to lessen the spread of respiratory illness.

• People experiencing cough, fever and fatigue, possibly along with diarrhea and

vomiting, should contact their physician.

If you think you have influenza, please call your health care provider and discuss whether you need to be seen in office or an emergency facility or stay home.