Albany organizations mindful of Georgia H1-N1 virus case - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany organizations mindful of Georgia H1-N1 case

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A 30-year-old Kentucky woman visiting Georgia is the state's first confirmed case of the H1-N1 swine flu virus.

She recently traveled to Cancun, Mexico then went to Lagrange for a wedding. She is now hospitalized at West Georgia Health System and said to be recovering. Her family is being treated with anti-viral medication, but so far none has shown symptoms.

The case is raising awareness in the state.

While other states like Alabama have canceled sporting events like the track meet in Albany Thursday, health officials say for now, they're okay, especially events outside. They're still sending home letters to students in 14 counties letting parents know important information about this H1-N1 virus.

With a positive test for the virus, Georgia Health officials have raised their level of concern. The emergency operations center is fielding more questions and awaiting the results of more specimens in the state lab.

"For the state's standpoint there are 13 specimens in the state lab," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Georgia Public Health Director.

Area pharmacists are watching the epidemic closely and stocking up on the anti-viral to treat the H1-N1 virus.

"When this thing hit the news I immediately canceled my return and turned around and ordered a double supply of what I usually have," said Phillips Pharmacy Owner Gary Phillips.

Phillips Pharmacy placed another order of Tamiflu. U-Save-It's wholesaler who was out earlier in the week, got a new supply and is rationing it out to communities with the greatest need. Health officials say with Georgia's first case its even more important to remember those good hygiene practices like hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes.

"Not touching everything then putting your hands back to your face, to your nose, to your eyes, to your mouth," said Dr. Grant.

As school districts send home information to parents, they're planning for the worst should a case of H1-N1 be confirmed in their community.

"There's a procedure for closing schools, evacuating students, to quarantine people, and making the schools ready to be reopened," said Dougherty Co. School System Public Information Officer R. D. Harter.

Many districts are concerned about the fate of their biggest event of the year, graduation.

"All four high schools graduate on the same day and it's just a great day of celebration. We are hoping the swine flu doesn't impact in a way that will keep us from having our graduation ceremonies," Harter said.

The fate of those events and events like this one will depend on the results of the state's 13 specimens. Tomorrow the health department plans to meet with its partner agencies, like the schools, hospitals, county and city leaders to update them on the state's status.

The World Health Organization's alert level remains at Phase five, the second highest, indicating a pandemic may be imminent.

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