Contact: Michael Faulkner, Okeechobee Emergency Management
Okeechobee EOC Media Releases and Updates
Questions and answers to the Swine Influenza Outbreak in the U.S.
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
Are caregivers for children 0 to 6 months still in the priority group?
Yes. That was an oversight in the earlier briefing. They are in the priority group as stated in previous guidance.
Can the term ‘directive’ be used as opposed to the term ‘guidance’ on documents coming from the state regarding H1N1 planning initiatives?
The term guidance is used because the state understands that counties may choose to implement the guidance differently based on local needs. A one-size fits all directive could prove problematic for statewide implementation. It is the hope of the Department that the guidance is flexible enough to work for all counties without being overly prescriptive.
Will Flu Mist be the fist type of vaccine released? If so, pregnant women can not take this. How does this affect the priority groups for vaccination?
As we under stand now, flu mist will be the first vaccine product available. Counties will have to implement the priority groups based on the product available and who can safely take it. As more information is shared on the vaccine distribution that will be made available to County Health departments.
Are correctional officers a part of the priority group?
Medical staff within the correctional facility would be part of the healthcare workers priority group but general correctional staff would not.
What types of hand-sanitizer besides alcohol based are available?
Washing hands with soap and water is the preferred method for sanitizing your hands. There are also alcohol and non-alcohol based hand sanitizers available; although the non-alcohol based products are not as effective.
Any change in the Florida Administrative Code to allow county health departments to dispense anti-virals to non-CHD clients?
Temporary additions to Florida Administrative Code are in place to support antiviral distribution in the following areas:
- Under 64F-12.011(1) (h) and (i) FAC and with Federal Public Health Emergency Declaration, county health departments may transfer public pharmaceuticals to health care entities including hospital pharmacies or licensed medical directors of government health care entities. The transfer will require a signed Tamilfu/Relenza Requisition Form.
- In addition, 64F-12.011(1) (a) FAC have also been temporarily expanded to allow the Department of Health to transfer antivirals to commercial pharmacies in order to supply patients who cannot pay or to fill temporary shortages in commercial supply.
More detail is available through your local CHD in the document “Public Antiviral Stockpile Program Concept of Operations” (September 21, 2009, Version 2.0).
What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. we recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
How serious is swine flu infection?
Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
Information will continue to be provided through our website, www.okeechobeeeoc.com, under the current update section.
Michael Faulkner, CEM
Okeechobee Emergency Management
Okeechobee County, Florida
W: (863) 763-3212
M: (863) 634-6273