No confirmed cases of swine influenza in So. Ga. - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

No confirmed cases of swine influenza in So. Ga.

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 By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

 The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for swine flu by one level, two steps short of declaring a full-blown pandemic. The outbreak is evolving and changing quickly in the United States.

That's the latest from the acting director of the centers for disease control and prevention.

Doctor Richard Besser said Monday the numbers of confirmed cases will fluctuate, but right now, there are forty confirmed cases in five states, and no deaths.

A House committee will hold an emergency hearing this week on increasing cases of swine flu in the United States and other countries.

President Obama has said the swine flu outbreak was a concern but "not a cause for alarm."             

In Georgia there have been no confirmed cases of swine influenza, although the state may see cases of the swine flu, given the unfolding circumstances. 

Georgia's Division of Public Health is preparing for the possibility by monitoring confirmed cases in the nation along with state and federal authorities.  Tonight they have some warnings for the public and area doctors.  

 Doctors say you should approach the swine flu with cautious awareness.  While the state hasn't had any cases of the illness, if you were recently in Mexico or are around someone who was, here's want you need to know. 

The incubation period is less than a week.  People with the virus are contagious a day before and a week after they show symptoms and those symptoms are much like the traditional flu.

 "There's going to be a higher fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue there may be a little sore throat, and what's interesting in this is there has been some diarrhea which is not normally part of the flu," said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Craig Smith.

Georgia Public Health officials say the swine flu should be treated just like the Influenza A.

"Do the things that we always say to do with the flu, hand washing is essential, covering your mouth when you cough, sneeze and if you are sick do not go to work or school," said Southwest Georgia Public Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.      

In fact if you have symptoms you should see a doctor.  The health department had a warning for physicians as well.  They're asking doctors to keep public health in the loop.

"We're asking them not to test with a regular viral swab and send it to your laboratories, this test needs to be sent to public health," said Grant. 

The flu shot won't protect you from the swine flu, but if you get one every year, you may have gotten a dose that would lessen the swine flu's affect.  It is treatable.

"It's already been tested and it's susceptible to Tamiflu and Relenza which are two of the current antiviral drugs for influenza and their readily available," said Smith.  

The CDC announced today they're releasing 25 percent of their stockpile of the medications, some of which is on its way to health departments in Georgia. 

According to Infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Smith, no one has died from the swine flu in the United States for more than 20 years.  He also said there have been sporadic cases of the flu before in the U.S.

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