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Swine flu has local health officials on alert

April 28, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

o More information is available at www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

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As the number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States continues to rise, local health officials are staying alert.

"We are still monitoring the situation," Rod MacRae, public information officer for the Washington County Health Department, said Tuesday. "Appropriate steps are being taken."

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The number of confirmed swine flu cases in the U.S. has climbed to 64, federal officials said Tuesday, and states reported at least four more.

MacRae said physicians, health-care facilities and nursing homes have access to information on swine flu and will be acting accordingly.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said there were 17 new cases in New York City, four more in Texas and three additional cases in California. That brings the total numbers of cases confirmed by federal officials to 45 in New York City, 10 in California, six in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio.

No cases have been reported in Maryland.

The Frederick County (Md.) Health Department set up an information hot line (301-600-4786) that tells callers -- in English or Spanish -- about the symptoms of swine flu and when medical care should be sought.

MacRae said Washington County does not have such a hot line.

A 1976 outbreak of swine flu that sparked fears of an epidemic prompted immunization clinics to be offered around Washington County. The epidemic never materialized.

In February of that year, a 19-year-old soldier at Fort Dix, N.J., died after complaining of unusual fatigue, and several cases of the disease emerged among his fellow soldiers.

The man's death and fears that the disease might have spread sent the government into overdrive. Almost overnight, a program was created to vaccinate all Americans.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?



o Fever

o Cough

o Sore throat

o Body aches

o Headache

o Chills and fatigue

o Possible vomiting and diarrhea

How do I protect myself and my family?



o Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue that you throw away; cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand.

o Wash hands frequently; if soap and water are not available, use hand gels.

o Stay home if you are sick; keep sick children home from school.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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