Long Beach Health Department Concerned About Swine Flu

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swine-flu-californiaAs of April 24, 2009, six California residents from San Diego and Imperial Counties have been diagnosed with a new type of swine influenza (swine flu) virus infection. Swine influenza is a respiratory virus common to pigs that does not normally affect humans; however, human infections with swine flu do occur.

The six individuals infected did not have any contact with pigs, so person-to-person transmission is suspected. These cases may be related to an outbreak of respiratory illness in central Mexico which has sickened several hundred people and caused some deaths.

All of the affected individuals in the U.S. so far experienced a mild form of the disease and have recovered fully. The symptoms they experienced were similar to those of seasonal influenza, including fever, chills, headache, sore throat and a runny nose, with several experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea.

As of Friday, April 24, 2009 there have been no reported cases in Long Beach, but the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services has issued an alert to physicians encouraging them to send specimens from patients they suspect of having influenza-like illness to the Health Department to test for swine flu.

The influenza season this year has been mild, with most cases being seen in January through March. Influenza cases here in Long Beach have been declining steadily over the past several weeks.

At this point, not much is known about how the new swine flu is spread, but it is believed to spread in the same way as seasonal influenza, through coughing, sneezing or contact with respiratory secretions. The Health Department encourages people to practice the following healthy habits to prevent catching or spreading the flu:

  • Wash hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer frequently
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into clothing (sleeves),
  • Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, exercise, get plenty of rest, do not smoke and avoid alcoholic beverages.

For further information on swine influenza, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s swine flue webpage at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine. For further information you may contact Moniek Pointer, Health Department Acting PIO, at (562) 570-4312.

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