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Swine flu: ‘No need to panic,’ says health director

by Tom Chillemi

While the swine flu threat is making headlines, there have been no cases of swine flu in Virginia, said Dr. Thomas Irungu, director of Three Rivers Health District at Cooks Corner in Middlesex County. 

“It’s a mild illness,” said Dr. Irungu on Tuesday. “There is no need for a panic. This can be contained.” 

The only swine flu-related death reported in the United States as of yesterday morning was a baby that died in Texas.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Three Rivers Health District are doing active surveillance for possible swine flu cases. 

The health departments are communicating with doctors in the community, advising them that anyone with acute respiratory illness who traveled to Mexico or United States jurisdictions that have reported swine flu should be tested—especially if they have symptoms that developed within 7 days of exposure, said Dr. Irungu.

Local health departments are providing swine flu testing kits to area doctors. The samples will be sent to the Virginia Department of Health’s main laboratory in Richmond, and possibly to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

No active cases have been found in Virginia, emphasized Dr. Irungu on Tuesday.

The state of New York has reported 45 cases of swine flu and California has 10, according to the CDC website on Tuesday, when there had been 64 human cases of swine flu reported in the U.S.

While there has not been a need for swine flu medication in Virginia or the Middlesex area, the CDC is releasing 25 percent of its strategic national stock pile of anti-viral flu medications, said Dr. Irungu.

If needed, flu medications will come through the state, which is working on a distribution system that gets the medications to patients if and when they are needed. “We don’t have any cases, so we don’t need it now,” he said.

Dr. Irungu attended a meeting of the Mid-Tidewater Medical Society on April 28, and the detection and treatment of swine flu was discussed.

posted 04.29.2009

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