Tuolumne County Swine Flu Update

DATE: April 30, 2009
Time: 7:00 am

From: Kathleen K Rustrum, Tuolumne County Public Information Officer
S. Todd Stolp MD, Tuolumne County Health Officer

As of April 30, 2009, there are over 100 cases of Swine Influenza confirmed in the United States with one death. There have been no cases of Swine Influenza in Tuolumne County. By April 29, there had been 14 cases of Swine Influenza confirmed in California.

What should I do if I feel ill?

It is important for each person to familiarize themselves with symptoms of the “flu.” It is most important that you learn to recognize when those symptoms do not require a visit to a clinic or emergency room, and when your condition might require the attention of a health care provider. In this way we can avoid unnecessary delays for patients requiring care and unnecessary exposure of people to infections in waiting rooms.

Influenza can be recognized by:

  •  A fever of 100 degrees by oral measurement and
  • A cough and/or sore throat.

You will note that many other virus illnesses may cause these same symptoms. Therefore, it is not necessary that you immediately seek help if you have these symptoms. There are two situations in which you should consider calling an expert for advice about being seen for your illness.

  1. You should call your usual health care provider, urgent care or emergency room if the patient with symptoms has difficulty breathing, becomes confused, appears pale or bluish around the mouth or face, or begins to cough up blood in the sputum. These are the signs that any respiratory illness may be more serious, whether or not it is caused by influenza.
  2. Tuolumne County residents should call your local health department (209-533-7401) or the healthcare provider of your choice if you have the signs of influenza (see A and B above) and you have recently traveled to Mexico or to a community with a confirmed case of Swine Influenza, or you have been exposed to a person with confirmed Swine Influenza, or live in a group (household, dormitory etc…) with a person who has confirmed Swine Influenza.

How dangerous is this virus?

Information about this new swine influenza (H1N1) virus is rapidly being collected. While most people have no more symptoms than as if they had a bad “cold,” some people suffer more severe illness. Deaths appear to be rare, but not impossible. The most important question that still needs to be answered is how many people will catch this virus. It is for this reason that it is so important that people are particularly careful not to share germs by doing the following:

  • Obey proper hand washing with soap, and use hand gels if they are available.
  • Cough into the inside of your elbow to cover your cough if you must cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home from work or school if you develop a respiratory illness. Avoid sharing your germs
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread that way.
  • Dispose of used tissues properly.
  • How will infected people be treated?

While there are medications for people who are suspected of having Swine Influenza, not everybody who is tested for the illness will require treatment. This decision is left up to the trained health care provider who sees the patient. Medications are available to treat people who need treatment.

Is there a vaccine for the Swine Influenza?

The United States public health system consists of a number of different agencies who are working with private industry to prepare a vaccine as quickly as possible to help protect the population. By limiting the spread of the virus through the use of medication and keeping infected people away from uninfected people we will seek to allow enough time for this vaccine to be made available.

General Information

The World Health Organization has raised the Pandemic Phase to Level 5, meaning that further spread to larger clusters has occurred. This directs other states and countries to prepare appropriately. See websites below for more information on preparation.

  • The Governor has issued a Proclamation of Emergency for the State of California yesterday, April 28th.
  • The Tuolumne County Department of Public Health Department Operations Center (DOC) is activated during normal business hours.
  • The Inland Region Emergency Operations Center (REOC) is activated in support of Tuolumne County from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Additional Information

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I like going places: out West, west of the West, and all the way around the back of the globe to the East. I like to go by train, plane, automobile, horseback. Whatever. And I like writing about what I see, feel, hear, smell, and touch all along the way and once I get there.

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