Flu Outbreak Update

May 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Health officials now believe the H1N1 flu (swine flu) is relatively mild.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Swine Flu: General Information
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Central Valley

Valley leaders gather to update the public on the fight against a flu outbreak that's hitting several parts of the nation. Congressman Jim Costa said the Central Valley is ready if there is a major outbreak of the H1N1 flu.

Congressman Costa said he just flew in from Washington D.C. where he was briefed with the latest information about the H1N1 flu. He said there is no reason for anyone to panic, no reason to stop flying or use public transpiration; and he reassured us, it is ok to eat pork.

A representative from the Fresno County Health Dept said Thursday it received about 35,000 doses of anti-virals and so far out of the 120 flu specimens, the county has tested, there hasn't been a single probable case of H1N1 flu.

Earlier this week president Obama asked for $1.5-billion dollars so the Centers for Disease Control could come up with a new vaccine which could be available in August or September. "It is a mutation as I am told of multiple flu which is why we are having to develop a new vaccine," said Rep. Jim Costa (D) Fresno. The Fresno County School Superintendent also wanted to reassure the public that the 34 school districts in the County all have a plan should there be an outbreak.

Congressman Costa said there is no reason to stop flying. He said flew in from D.C. Thursday night and if he thought it wasn't safe he wouldn't have done it.

(Itica Milanes, ABC 30 Action News, Fresno, Calif.)

World View

China has become the first Asian country to record the swine flu as Hong Kong reported its first case Friday. That makes thirteen countries worldwide that have been hit. Here in the U.S., over 130 cases are confirmed in 18 states.

Scientists are on a mission to prepare massive doses of a vaccine to fight the H1N1 virus better known as swine flu. There are now more than 100 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in the U.S. Nearly 300 schools are closed and medical masks are fast becoming the latest accessory.

"I feel like I'm a biohazard. Everyone's wearing the masks," said University of Delaware Student Adam Dweck.

Concern among the public is so widespread armed cars escorted trucks carrying anti-virals and other supplies in California.

But, this particular strain seems to be relatively mild. Most victims recover within days which are leading some health experts to call for calm. "I think a school that closes without any identified case or risk, is overreacting and we're going to have to back off from that kind of reaction," said ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson.

However, in Mexico where at least 12 people are confirmed to have died from the virus and hundreds have been sickened, anger is building over who may be to blame. Many Mexicans accuse the government of withholding valuable information.

The country's top epidemiologist said the world health organization took eight days to warn other nations about the possible pandemic. From the time he notified them on April 16th, the agency said it wasn't until April 24th that the virus was positively identified.

So far, health officials are sticking to common-sense advice when it comes to avoiding the virus: plenty of hand washing, and if you feel flu-like symptoms stay home or visit your doctor.

(Diana Alvear, ABC News, Chicago)

Possible Porterville Case

There's another possible case of the flu in the South Valley. A Porterville woman is thought to be the latest victim.

The Tulare County Health Department said tests show she probably has the H1N1 virus. Officials said it's a mild case, but they are concerned because the woman works at a nursing home. "Anytime there's influenza in a nursing home, even the normal circulating kind, it's a concern," said Tulare County Health Officer Karen Haught.

The nursing home is monitoring its residents for any signs of the flu. So far, no one at the home has been infected.

The woman was treated in the emergency room at Sierra District Hospital. Now, anyone entering the hospital will be screened for flu symptoms.

Visalia Elementary School Closure

A South Valley school remains closed because of the flu outbreak. Mountain View Elementary in Visalia has been shut down since Wednesday.

A kindergarten student had a probable case of the flu virus. Test results came back yesterday and were negative. Officials said the girl's health continues to improve.

Despite the test results, school district officials said the health department has not given them clearance to re-open.

Information Hotlines

If you have questions about the flu outbreak, the Fresno, Tulare and Merced County health departments have set up special information lines.

Fresno County: (888) 993-3003

Tulare County: (800) 834-7121.

Merced County's hotline is (209) 381-1180

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