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North Carolina Public Health Officials Watch and Prepare for  Swine Flu

Release Date: April 27, 2009
Contact: Renee McCoy, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – Public health leaders in North Carolina, along with those in other states across the country, are watching Swine Influenza infection cases in several states and are getting ready in case the disease spreads further. No cases of Swine Flu have been confirmed in North Carolina as yet, but state public health officials are asking North Carolina residents to follow the same health precautions they take during any flu season. They are also working with health care providers, day cares and schools, laboratories, institutions and others to ensure they have the latest information on prevention, disease control, diagnosis and treatment.

“We want North Carolinians to know that we are actively participating in CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) efforts to detect the disease and are coordinating with doctors and health providers across the state,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said. [print quality photo, 290 KB

“As with all flu events, people should cover their mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, avoid close contact with people who are sick and wash their hands often. People should also stay home from school and work when they are ill so they do not spread disease to others,” he said.

People who have recently traveled to southern California, Texas or Mexico and develop flu-like symptoms should contact their health provider and inform them of their travel to those areas. 

As of today (Monday), CDC has confirmed 40 cases of swine influenza infection in humans in five states: California, Texas, Kansas, Ohio and New York.  Only one of the patients identified was reported to have been hospitalized; there have been no deaths from flu reported in the U.S.

North Carolina public health officials began coordinating with regional responders and local health departments on Friday, to ensure information and updates are communicated to local health providers.   All providers are being asked to question patients who report having influenza-like illness about any recent travel.  State health providers participating in the national Influenza Sentinel Provider Network are also being asked to submit viral cultures from all patients presenting symptoms of influenza-like illness.

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu virus can be transmitted from pigs to humans through contact with live pigs, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented. 

For more information about protecting yourself and your family from flu, see www.ncdhhs.gov. For more about influenza prevention efforts in North Carolina, see www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/flu.html.  For additional health information and more about swine flu in the U.S., see www.cdc.gov/flu/swine.