Swine flu reaches state | PostIndependent.com

Swine flu reaches state

John Colson
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Two cases of swine flu ” now being formally called H1N1 (Swine) flu ” were confirmed in Colorado by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials said on Thursday.

Public health officials locally and at the state and federal level have begun to distance themselves from the public image of the disease, in terms of its name and its origins, and statements about the outbreak currently refer to the disease only as “H1N1 flu.”

The two Colorado cases involved a man from Douglas County who was hospitalized for three days but was believed to be recovering, and a woman from Arapahoe County who did not require hospitalization.

The Arapahoe County woman, who is in her 30s, reportedly had recently returned from a cruise to Mexico, where the current flu outbreak originated, and had then spent time in San Diego.

The Douglas County man, in his 40s, works as a baggage handler at Denver International Airport.

Both victims became ill around April 26, according to news reports.

Prior to the announcement of the two Colorado cases and a new case in Minnesota, the CDC had said there were 109 confirmed U.S. cases of swine flu in 11 states. About half of the cases were in New York, plus 26 in Texas and 14 in California.

Federal, state and local authorities, in calling the disease “H1N1 flu” rather than swine flu, are reacting partly to pressure from pork producers concerned about a popular association of the disease with pork and pigs, according to news reports.

Officials also maintain that the “swine flu” name inaccurately characterizes the disease’s genetics because the virus includes material from species other than swine.

In Garfield County, local Colorado State University Extension official Bill Ekstrom forcefully rejected any links between the spreading virus and pigs.

“Pigs do not spread this stuff,” he declared, speaking by cell phone from a 4-H event in western Garfield County.

“The current feelings are that the virus may have passed through a swine host months or even years ago,” stated a press release on the matter issued by CSU specialist Brett Kirch. “At this point there is no evidence that swine are contributing to the spread of this disease.”

Kirch stressed that 4-H families involved in raising pigs have no reason for concern about catching the disease from their livestock, maintaining that “this particular virus seems to have origins or genetic material from swine, avian and human viral sources.”

Health officials at all levels emphasize that the best defense against spreading the virus is to wash hands frequently, cover the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, avoid contact with sick people, stay at home if mild symptoms develop and see a doctor if the symptoms worsen.

Influenza information can be obtained at http://www.garfield-county.com; or at http:// http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/ or by telephone at CO HELP at 1 (877) 462-2911.

Comprehensive information concerning H1N1 influenza can also be obtained at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. For specific information on travel precautions and an update on the affected areas, visit http://www.cdc.gov/travel.

For additional local information, please contact Jim Rada, Garfield County Public Health, public information coordinator at 625-520, ext. 8113.

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