Local health officials address swine flu

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Memorial Health System of East Texas said they are partnering with the Angelina County and Cities Health District. Local health officials said there are no known cases of swine flu in East Texas, however WFAA in Dallas, an ABC station, reported three confirmed cases in Dallas County.   The Swine Flu is similar to any other type of flu in the past, but the difference is in some of the symptoms that have been reported.

"We have a plan, we'll respond as necessary," said Memorial Medical Center Safety Officer Ken Jobe.

With only three confirmed cases in Texas, focus has turned to precautionary measures.

"Any patients that are presenting to our emergency department that have any type of respiratory symptoms or flu-like symptoms we are going to go ahead and swab those patients.  Any positive screens will then be sent to Tyler to get a confirmation," said Memorial Medical Center Administrative Director of Clinical Operations, Norma Sanford.

Sanford said with the flu, symptoms include fever, coughing, cold, an aching body, fatigue, chills, and sore throat.   With Swine Flu, one may experience all of those characteristics plus nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.   If you have a combination of most of these symptoms, Sanford said you should seek medical treatment.

Sanford said it is scary for people because, "...it's different and the vaccines we've used in the past may not have any impact on this particular strain of the flu."

However, a few prevention methods could have some impact on this strain, such as covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, avoiding large groups where there is danger of contamination, and frequently washing your hands.

"We can isolate patients either by room or floor or wing to be able to take more patients.  We have the protective equipment to keep both our patients and visitors safe," said Jobe.

They said one may not experience any symptoms of the Swine Flu for 24 hours and then one could remain infectious for seven days after you have developed symptoms.   They said like any flu strain, death could occur if it goes untreated.

It is important to note you are at a greater risk for Swine Flu, if you've recently made a trip to Mexico, if you have existing medical conditions.   Infants and the elderly are also at a greater risk.

Click on the Big Red Box to read the City of Lufkin and Angelina County's news release which includes links to several websites for more information about the Swine Flu.