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Lucas County health officials agreed that Northwest Ohio residents should not panic because of the swine flu cases around the country.
Toledo-Lucas County Health Department Deputy Health Commissioner Larry Vasko said the county is prepared to handle swine flu cases and has initiated plans developed during the avian flu and SARS outbreaks. Residents should remain calm.
“The most important things people can do are the common sense things to do,” said Ken Bertka, chief medical information officer for Mercy Health Partners. He said “common sense things to do” are washing hands frequently, coughing into your elbow instead of your hands and staying away from school or work if developing symptoms.
Vasko said April 29 that residents should visit their family physicians if experiencing swine flu symptoms instead of going to the emergency room.
“Definitely it’s important to avoid disease and if you can avoid this disease, we need to do it,” Vasko said. “We have not seen the fatalities they have in Mexico, and boy are we ever glad of that.”
Vasko said because people are mobile, it is hard to predict how and where swine flu will develop.
“The child who came back into Elyria [Ohio] came back on a flight on Monday and was in school Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” he said. “People move a lot, and they come and go a lot, so it’s incredibly hard to predict where something would come from.”
Patty Hicks, manager of travel operation of AAA Northwest Ohio, said there has not been an increase in people canceling trips. Some passengers, she said, are choosing to switch their destination from Mexico to a Caribbean island.
Bertka said the incubation period for a flu will usually be from one or two days to a week. Swine flu, he said, appears to be only one or two days. Thus, if someone was in Mexico 10 days ago, and they’re not sick yet, they are not going to get sick, he said.
“It’s hitting people rapidly and hard,” Bertka said.
Bertka said typically with swine flu, the patients have experienced cold-like symptoms: a fever, dizziness, chills, coughing and occasionally nausea. Swine flu differs however, because it has a sudden onset.
While the test for flu is rapid, swine flu is not easily tested. A swab sample goes to a lab, most likely a state lab, to define if it is type A or type A swine flu, Bertka said.
Antiviral drugs are effective in the first 48 hours, Bertka said, and acetimetaphin is helpful to reduce the fever. He defined the overall treatment as “supportive care” — keeping the patient comfortable and hydrated. Bertka confirmed that the Mercy hospitals have not seen an increase in patients seeking care. ProMedica Health System deferred comment to the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.
Vasko said if the situation worsens, Health Commissioner David Grossman will decide what precautions to take and if quarantine is necessary. There is also an information line for the state of Ohio, (866) 800-1404.