As King County Council Chair Dow Constantine put it at the end of the council briefing that just ended, the information presented by county public-health managers was “reassuring.” NO swine-flu infections reported in the county, so in response to the question “What should people here do?” there was only one answer: Stay informed. It was also noted, as you may have read in national/international reports, this is not an automatically grave illness — some who’ve gotten it elsewhere may have been “asymptomatic.” Also, in terms of what’s being used to treat it, Tamiflu can be used, and it’s stockpiled. So the admonition between the lines, throughout the briefing, was: Don’t panic. (It was also noted, regular flu kills 35,000 people nationwide every year, so even a flu death would not necessarily be cause for panic.) As for that advice to “stay informed” – the latest nationwide info is always available at this Centers for Disease Control page (40 cases in the U.S. as of today). Any additional county info that emerges post-briefing, we’ll add here; the county has some links in the right sidebar here.
1:26 PM: Also noted (thanks to Delridge Neighborhood Services Coordinator Ron Angeles for forwarding the e-mail), the county has activated its Health and Medical Area Command to monitor the situation; in addition to the web links we’ve already provided above, the county’s health hotline 206-296-4949 is also recommended for public information. (The HMAC is explained here.)
5:19 PM ADDITION: The Seattle City Council Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee will get a swine flu briefing in a special meeting this Wednesday, 1:30 pm.
8:30 PM: Seattle Public Schools families will all get a letter with some basic public-health tips – here’s the text:
April 27, 2009
Dear Seattle Public Schools Students, Families and Staff:
There have not been any cases of Swine Influenza (Flu) reported in the State of Washington or King County. However, there have been confirmed cases of Swine Flu seen across the United States in the last few weeks. Seattle Public Schools staff works closely with the local, state, and national health agencies to investigate any illnesses and/or infections and we have plans in place to deal with any potential outbreaks.
Swine Flu in people is characterized by fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. The illness may last up to seven days, but people are considered to be contagious as long as symptoms persist. If you or your child is showing mild flu-like symptoms, monitor and telephone your physician to consult if necessary or you can also consult with your school’s nurse.
Seattle Public Schools wants to remind parents and staff members of the importance of prevention and how to stay safe.
What You Can Do To Prevent the Spread of Swine Flu
• Sneeze or cough into a tissue, elbow or sleeve. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
• If you are sick, stay home.
Symptoms of Swine Flu
• Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue.
Please remember that students should stay home when they have any of the following symptoms: fever (temperature 100 degrees or higher), vomiting or diarrhea, blistery rash, heavy nasal congestion or frequent cough and if your child has been diagnosed with a contagious disease.
If you have any questions feel free to call the Seattle King County Public Health Department at (206) 296-4949 or visit www.kingcounty.gov/health or visit the Centers for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov.
Jill Lewis, RN MN
Program Manager, Student Health Services