Update: The probable cases referred to below were confirmed to be swine flu. Howard County health officials were notified by the Centers for Disease Control at noon on Wednesday. The confirmation does not change public health officials' response since the probable cases were treated as as if they were confirmed swine flu.
In the wake of two probable cases of swine flu in Howard County discovered Friday, county health officials are stepping up surveillance of the illness and keeping in close contact with state public health officials, local health care providers and area schools.
Meeting Monday, emergency responders and public health officials were joined by Presiding Commissioner Lowell Eaton in the Keller Building. The group discussed available information and worked out additional response procedures in the event more cases of flu are reported.
The cases'involving a father and son from the Glasgow area'have not been confirmed to be swine flu. Still, as a precaution, the family of the sickened individuals have been treated with antiviral medications and are responding to the treatment. 'The whole family is feeling better,' Sheila Wallace, R.N., administrator of the Howard County Public Health Department, said at the noon meeting.
Wallace learned of the two probable cases at 5:35 p.m. Friday. Since then, she has been in close contact with state public health officials and has ordered additional antiviral medications, masks and gloves.
The county also has a stockpile of antivirals ready to be distributed should the need arise
The illness appears to be relatively mild and seems to be contained, Wallace said. The family has been in quarantine since Friday. All persons who have had contact with the sickened individuals'a handful in Howard County and a number of persons in a multi-state region'have been contacted by health officials and no one has become ill.
Fayette police chief Bryan Kunze, who also is director of the Howard County Local Emergency Planning Committee, said that staff personnel in city hall were disinfecting counters and other surfaces.
Local school districts have antiviral medicines and masks on hand, it was noted.
Dr. Paul Schoephoerster, medical director of the Fayette University Physicians clinic, said he has observed nothing out of the ordinary in recent days. 'This is peak allergy time and we're seeing a number of cases of strep-throat and respirator illnesses,' he said. 'But this is common for springtime. I suggest residents simply observe common sense hygiene.'
Swine flu is a respiratory disease that originated with pigs and spreads to humans. Once among humans, it can be transmitted person to person through sneezing and coughing.
Wallace reminds citizens that 'we are still within the normal flu season,' so persons who get sick with flu-like symptoms should see their primary care physician for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Also, it is important to follow the following personal protective measures:
' Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with hot, soapy water. If water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
' Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
' Stay home if you are sick.
' Try to avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
' Avoid contact with infected persons.
Symptoms of the swine flu are similar to that of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
At Fayette Advertiser press time, two confirmed and six probable cases of the swine flu have been reported in Missouri. Nationwide, 225 persons in 30 states have been sickened by the swine flu according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
For more information on swine flu, go to http://www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/_SwineFlu09.html.