|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - May 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Health care providers, schools put on prevent defense
Polk County Enterprise - May 2009
LIVINGSTON — Polk County, so far, has been able to avoid an outbreak of the H1N1 virus, formerly known as Swine Flu, but nationwide the number of confi rmed cases has risen. “The situation continues to evolve rapidly. As of May 1, 11 countries have offi cially reported 331 cases of infl uenza ‘A’(H1N1) infection,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO) website. “Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of infl uenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5 (on a six-step scale),” WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan said.
“Infl uenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world.” Reaction to the outbreak varies from country to country, state to state, and on a regional level. While authorities suggest vigilance and an aggressive response to any perceived threat, they maintain caution about spreading unnecessary fear. “At this time there are no plans to suspend local events or outdoor activities in Livingston,” City Manager Marilyn Sutton said Friday.
“This is a very fl uid situation. If we receive new information from state or local agencies we will react accordingly.” City and county offi cials along with health coordinators and school administrators from the area, sit in on daily conference calls with the state health department. Any questions offi cials may have are answered by medical experts then. Polk County is following the guidance of the state until a case presents itself locally, according to Marcia Cook, administrative assistant to the county judge. She said there have been no confi rmed cases in Polk County. Livingston’s schools will remain open until further notice according to LISD spokesman Greg Faith. “We are working with local and state health offi cials to track the progress of this disease and to react as necessary.
There are no confi rmed cases in our district and we have not seen a rise in fl u-like symptoms,” he said. Corrigan schools intend to be open next week and their prom planned for May 9 will go on as scheduled, unless circumstances change. Onalaska and Goodrich schools will also be open. The school districts are encouraging students and parents to check the websites for any updates.
Polk County school websites can be found at the following addresses: • Goodrich: http://www. goodrich isd.net • Livingston: http://www. livingstonisd.com • Onalaska: http://www. onalaskaisd.net. • Corrigan: http://www. corrigan-camdenisd.net • Big Sandy: http://www.bigsa dyisd.org • L e g g e t t : h t t p : / / w w w. leggettisd.net Each year 36,000 people in the U.S. die from fl u-related symptoms. The typical fl u season in the U.S. is on its way out and the real concern is that a second season of flu-related deaths could be more catastrophic than the first because there is no immunization for this virus. After exposure, adults can pass on the virus for two to five days. Children can excrete the virus for two to three weeks.
“The symptoms are the same as typical flu symptoms that we all know about,” said Ray Luna M.D., a family practice physician who also serves as the health officer for the City of Livingston. Influenza is a viral infection, according to the WHO website. It affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and, occasionally, lungs. Infection usually lasts for about a week, and is characterized by sudden onset of high fever, aching muscles, headache and severe malaise (general bodily weakness or discomfort), non-productive cough, sore throat and rhinitis. The virus is transmitted easily from person to person via droplets and small particles produced when infected people cough or sneeze. Influenza tends to spread rapidly in seasonal epidemics. “A sneeze can propel the virus up to 10 feet,” Dr. Luna said.
“Anyone within range could breathe that virus in.” Most infected people recover within one to two weeks without requiring medical treatment, according to the WHO website. However, in the very young, the elderly, and those with other serious medical conditions, infection can lead to severe complications of the underlying condition, pneumonia and death. “While there are many unanswered questions about this strain of influenza, we do know that the practice of healthy habits at work, at home and elsewhere is key to preventing its spread,” said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas state director.
Two medications, Tamiflu and Relenza have proven effective in combating this latest variation of the flu virus. Gov. Perry announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved his increased request for 25 percent (850,000 courses) of the Texas allotment of anti-viral medication from the CDCs Strategic National Stockpile to be pre-positioned in the state. This request augments more than 840,000 courses of antiviral medication on hand in Texas following a purchase authorized by Gov. Perry and the 80th Legislature in 2007. CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake). For more information on the SNS, visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/ stockpile. Supplies from CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) are being sent to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak.
In addition, the federal government and manufacturers have begun the process of developing a vaccine against this new virus, according to the CDC website. The CDC website states, “response actions are aggressive, but they may vary across states and communities depending on local circumstances. Communities, businesses, places of worship, schools and individuals can all take action to slow the spread of this outbreak. People who are sick are urged to stay home from work or school and to avoid contact with others, except to seek medical care.
This action can avoid spreading illness further.” Health officials are urging people to just use some common sense and they should be fine. Avoid crowds and close contact whenever possible. Here are some simple precautions everyone should take: • Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Daycare workers have their kids sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” one time while scrubbing their hands with soap and water. • If you have to sneeze or cough try to do it in your upper sleeve or in the crook of your elbow to contain any germs. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and throw it away immediately.
Don’t place a dirty tissue on a surface where germs could spread. • Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay at home until you’re well again, so you don’t spread germs. • Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes where germs can enter. Don’t eat, drink or smoke after others. For more information about the spread and prevention of the North American Influenza virus, please go to this website: http:// www.dsha.state.tx.us/swineflu or http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu