GOVERNOR KAINE ANNOUNCES PRECAUTIONS TO PREPARE VIRGINIA TO RESPOND TO SWINE FLU OUTBREAK
~ State Health Commissioner to monitor for possible occurrences in Commonwealth ~
RICHMOND—Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced today that, though there are no confirmed cases in Virginia , the Commonwealth is preparing for any outbreak of swine flu by increasing its communication with healthcare providers, and is preparing to receive additional antiviral medication from the Centers for Disease Control. The state’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Karen Remley, is declaring a public health emergency which will give her more tools to coordinate any necessary response, including access to the state’s database for all licensed health care providers so that information can be more effectively and widely communicated. The state is also extending and enhancing its seasonal flu tracking program to ensure that any confirmed cases are promptly reported and tracked.
“We have been planning for a situation like this for many years,” Governor Kaine said. “We have a surveillance system in place that is closely tracking reports of influenza-type illnesses, our state laboratory is prepared to quickly conduct and report tests on suspected cases and we currently have some 770,000 courses of antiviral medication in our stockpile and will be receiving an additional 280,000 courses from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control within a week.”
Since 2006, the state has conducted six exercises to test its emergency preparedness plan for pandemic flu outbreaks.
“I share the concerns of health officials at home and abroad regarding swine influenza,” said Governor Kaine. “ Virginia is working in close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies as well as other states, including those in the National Capitol Region. Our 35 health districts across the state, which have been active participants in our planning exercises, are working closely with their local communities.”
Dr. Remley said that the current swine influenza outbreak is caused by a virus not previously seen in humans or animals. “Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and typically include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and runny nose. Additional symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, headache, chills and fatigue,” Dr. Remley said.
Persons with swine flu are contagious for up to seven days after the onset of illness and possibly longer if they are still symptomatic. The CDC and the scientific community are still learning more about this new virus.
“Many Virginians have travelled to Mexico this Spring. If you have been back in the U.S. for at least a week and are not already ill, it is very unlikely that will develop swine flu from that exposure. If you have symptoms of flu and have travelled to this and other areas where swine flu has been identified stay home and call your local health care provider or health department,” Dr. Remley said.
The Governor advised anyone with influenza like illness to protect themselves, their families and their fellow Virginians by following these standard guidelines:
• If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
• If you feel you need medical attention, call ahead first so health care providers can take necessary infection control measures.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
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