Swine flu impacts travel and anti-flu drugs

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Senior band members at Lufkin High School are on a Carnival Cruise Tuesday evening and were supposed to port in Mexico, but now the Superintendent said they may not ever make that stop.  Meanwhile, a local pharmicist said supply of Tamiflu, the drug that is supposed to treat and prevent the flu, is scarce.

Gary Hendrick is a Pharmacist at Timberland Discount Pharmacy.  He said, "Tamiflu is right now the only line of defense against influenza.  At the present, supplies are getting very short."

Hendrick knows firsthand.

"Yesterday my wholesaler had an ample supply.  Late yesterday afternoon, they were completely gone," said Hendrick.

Even though there's a shortage, Hendrick said the medicine is no guarantee.  "We're not even for sure that Tamiflu is what will stop it."

A virus that has already infected over 60 people in America, and while East Texas has not seen outbreaks, local schools are still taking precautions.

Roy Knight, Lufkin Independent School District Superintendent said, "We're real concerned about two primary issues.  One is our students' safety and ultimately the panic that tends to surround itself should this become pandemic."

Knight's senior band members were supposed to port in Mexico on their cruise.

"They have cancelled all ports of entry into Mexico and instead," Knight said.

Knight is confident the kids will be OK.

"They'll make a safe decision for our kids and wouldn't expose our kids to the swine flu in a foreign country.  That's been real reassuring to us and I'm hopeful our parents will hear this message as well," Knight said.

As for quarantines, Knight said that will be up to health officials.  "It certainly concerns me that any of our kids might have to be quarantined, but the likelihood of our kids catching the flu from the carnival cruise is far less likely than so many of my kids that travel back and forth to Mexico routinely to see family members."

In the end, Hendrick said being in the U.S. means less cause for worry.

"I think that the likelihood of there being an epidemic here is slim, but I think people are panicking and they're scared," said Hendrick.