Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Georgia Public Health provides information on swine flu

The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health is providing information to the public about the recent outbreak of swine flu.

At least 64 people as of April 28, 2009, have contracted swine flu in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). None of those 64 people had life-threatening symptoms and only one person required hospitalization.

Georgia has no confirmed reports of people contracting swine flu at this time.

Here are answers to common questions about swine flu and what Georgia is doing to prepare should any cases be reported in the state.

What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that cause regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person to person, but in the past this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

How is swine flu contracted?
The spread of the swine influenza virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Some people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

What is Georgia doing to help with the swine flu investigation?
Georgia continues to closely monitor developments surrounding the swine flu outbreak in the U.S. The state’s Division of Public Health is conducting enhanced surveillance for influenza, providing laboratory diagnosis and support for suspected cases and monitoring the syndromic surveillance system, which examines numbers of patients presenting to emergency rooms across the state.

What type of surveillance is the state conducting?
The Georgia Division of Public Health is utilizing an aggressive surveillance protocol which looks for any changes in influenza patterns across the state.

What should people do if they begin experiencing flu-like symptoms?
As always, persons who become ill should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza and other respiratory illnesses, to others in their communities. Ill people who experience any of the following warning signs should seek emergency medical care:

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Confusion
Severe or persistent vomiting

How can citizens protect themselves and their loved ones?
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 handscleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

What if I have eaten pork recently?
Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork products.

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