Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Health officer urges good hygiene to prevent swine flu

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County health officials are offering guidelines for residents against the swine flu that's appeared in California.


On April 22, Lake County Public Health received word that a new influenza virus was detected in the Southern California counties of San Diego and Imperial. These cases were detected through routine public health surveillance activities, which are designed to detect new strains of viruses.


This virus has been described as swine influenza A (H1N1) and appears to contain a unique combination of gene segments that has not previously been reported in the United States or elsewhere. Swine influenza is a respiratory disease in pigs and only occasionally infects humans.


County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said, “We have been preparing for influenza for several years, so we are fortunate to have systems in place and relationships with many community partners with whom we are able to respond in an organized way to this new finding.”


As of Sunday, eight cases have been detected in California; most are in Southern California but one potential case was reported in Sacramento County. The Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 20 cases in the United States on Sunday. Most of the illness has been mild and has occurred in children. None of these cases had a known contact with pigs.


So far, Lake County has not identified any cases of this type of influenza. Along with all California counties, Public Health personnel in Lake County are working in coordination with the California Department of Public Health to step up local surveillance measures. It is likely that this effort will reveal additional cases, so it should not be a cause for alarm.


There are still a number of unknowns regarding this virus. At this point in time, public health investigations are actively seeking additional information to determine the range of illness that this virus might cause and how easily it may be spread. It is too early to know if this new influenza virus could cause a widespread outbreak or pandemic.


Lake County Public Health is in regular communication with state health authorities and working with local health care providers and others as necessary to respond to this newly identified virus. This includes identification of people who might be ill with this infection, coordination of laboratory testing with the public health laboratory system, and distribution of information and guidance as it becomes available.


Because of Lake County’s rural nature, information regarding pets and livestock is also being sought and will be distributed in coordination with the appropriate county agencies.


Symptoms of swine influenza have been reported to be mild in most cases and are similar to other forms of “flu,” and include fever, cough and/or sore throat. Health care providers are encouraged to submit specimens from patients with these symptoms to the public health laboratory. People with underlying health conditions may experience more severe illness than others.


Like other forms of influenza, swine “flu” is likely to resolve on its own. Some antiviral drugs may be effective and doctors may consider their use, especially in more severe cases.


There is currently no human vaccine for swine influenza. The normal seasonal flu shot is not effective against this new strain. However, it is a good idea to have received a flu shot because it protects against seasonal flu and helps guard against the possibility of being infected with both kinds of influenza at the same time. This year’s usual influenza season is coming to a close.


Advice for Lake County residents includes:

– Practice good basic hygiene, including regular handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

– Stay home from school or work if you are sick.

– Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of swine flu. If you go to the doctor’s office, tell them right away about your symptoms so that you don’t expose others in the waiting room.



“This is a good time to review personal preparations for home preparedness,” said Tait.


Advice for how to prepare at home for influenza is posted on Lake County’s Public Health Web site at www.co.lake.ca.us.


Information about swine influenza is regularly posted and updated on California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control Web sites: www.cdph.ca.gov and www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/.

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