Olmsted County activates emergency coordination center - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Olmsted County activates emergency coordination center in response to swine flu


Rochester, MN (KTTC-DT) -- Swine flu started in Mexico and has now spread to the United States and beyond, with 40 confirmed cases in the United States. So far six states New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, California, and Oklahoma have reported cases of swine flu. No deaths have occurred, and no cases have been found in Minnesota. Still, state and local public health officials are taking precaution.

The Olmsted County Public Health department announced a news conference Monday afternoon after much concern over the Swine Flu. The director, Mary Wellik says the county has activated its Health Emergency Coordination Center within the health department. It's the first time Olmsted Public Health has activated the center since the 2007 floods.

"We're responding to the national situation, and just being ready; using the tools that we have at hand and the experience that we have that something could potentially become larger."

Wellik says they are taking direction from the Minnesota Department of Health, which is working with the Centers for the Disease control and the World Health Organization.

"The main symptoms that have been seen or described by patients infected with swine flu have been the same as seen with seasonal influenza, runny nose, cough, fever, feel bad," says Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist, Dr. William Marshall.

Marshall says this specific swine flu strain has never been seen before. It's made up of influenza that affects pigs, birds, and humans, but can only be transmitted between humans. The 40 confirmed cases found in the United States are all mild cases.

"It's important to know that there are anti-viral medications that are affective for treatment for the swine flu," says Marshall. There is Tamiflu, which is also know as Tamivere as a pill medication. And there's an inhale medication called Relenza or Zanamivir."

A vaccine has not yet been created for public use. A large concern is the possibility of this influenza strain mutating in a much larger problem.

It's important people don't become concerned by the problem, but just become of aware of your surroundings. There are some tips the state health department is trying to get across. Stay home from work or school if you are sick with any illness. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

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