No confirmed cases of swine flu have been found locally or in the state, according to public health officials.
The Lincoln Trail Public Health Department is working on plans for dealing with a possible outbreak, and getting information to schools, child care centers and others about flu prevention, said Wendy Keown, director of community outreach for the department.
They’re also talking to physicians about how to test for swine influenza A (H1N1) and how to report the findings, Keown said.
There have been 40 confirmed cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, as of 1 p.m. Monday. Cases have been found in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas.
Mexico currently has been impacted the most with nearly 150 deaths from the virus reported.
Swine flu is a respiratory illness that affects pigs and can be transmitted to people who are in contact with pigs, according to the CDC site. However, human-to-human transmission can occur as well, seemingly in the same way seasonal flu occurs; coughing and sneezing, along with touching something with the virus on it and then touching one’s nose or mouth.
There are some people being tested for the virus in the state, according to William Hacker, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health and state epidemiologist Kraig Humbaugh. They also pointed out that the period for seasonal flu is winding up, and some of the cases could be that. The two officials met with members of the media Monday afternoon about the flu.
Hacker and Humbaugh said the state has requested emergency antiviral drugs as a precaution in case commercial supplies of drugs, such as Tamiflu, run out. These drugs have thus far shown to be effective in treating the new flu.
The CDC also is working on manufacturing a vaccine for this strain of swine flu, but it takes about six months to do so, Hacker and Humbaugh said. The vaccine will be ready if the flu becomes long-lasting.
Health officials asked the public to take precautions as they would for any flu, such as frequent hand-washing, covering mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing and staying away from those who are ill. Officials also said that, at this point, those who think they may be sick but have no fever and still can function likely don’t need to see a doctor. But if a high fever and symptoms such as vomiting develop, the patient should be checked out.
Anyone who has traveled to Mexico recently and is not feeling well should do the same.