Concerns continue that the world could sit on the edge of the first influenza pandemic in 40 years. At last report, that was not the case, but health officials here and around the world stay alert and watchful as more cases of a new Swine flu develop.
Inyo-Mono Public Health Officer Rick Johnson said that a few flu cases in Bishop and Mammoth have sent samples for tests, but at last word no confirmed cases of Swine flu here.
Dr. Johnson talked to us about what many have called a public health emergency with the emergence of an entirely new strain of flu. We are worried about what is going on. We have not been able to show that the virus is actually in the Eastern Sierra. Were working on that very hard.
Johnson said there is a brand new virus to which no one has immunity. He said cases in the United States show mild to moderate illness although in Mexico cases have been serious and deaths recorded. Dr. Johnson said the chance to contain the virus to a certain geographic area is passed.
Dr. Johnson said our area has been asked to test all hospital cases of influenza-like illness to determine the presence of Swine flu. We are asking people who have been to an affected area, like Mexico, who then within the next 7 days get flu-like symptoms to call the health departments in Inyo and Mono counties to talk to them about getting tested.
The health officer said most people who get this illness should stay home, call your health care provider if you’re concerned about your illness. Don’t go to work or school. Johnson said this flu is transmitted human to human through sneezing and coughing.
If this flu worsens, Dr. Johnson recommends that residents take stock of their situation. Have enough food and water in your house for a couple of weeks. Have a communication plan with your family. Listen to local media for updates.
Dr. Johnson said this flu has the potential to be what is known as a pandemic, worldwide serious flu. More information is needed. Meanwhile, authorities are working on ways to produce a vaccine, but it could take 13 weeks or longer.
Dr. Johnson did say that those who raise pigs need not worry. None of the cases, he said, came from contact with animals. The new flu is passed from person to person.