The swine flu, which has been making national headlines this past weekend has not shown up in Utah as of Monday morning.
Based on news reports and reviews from the Center for Disease Control most of the people that have contracted this type of flu in the United States had recently traveled to Mexico where the disease had caused over 80 deaths by Monday morning.
Based on reports the cases in the United States have been much more mild, but officials are still keeping their eyes on the disease and how it may spread. Most of those that have come down with the disease recently travelled to Mexico.
Locally, the Southeastern Utah Health Department have been preparing for just such an event fo a long time.
“We have been working on plans for this kind of thing for the past three years,” said Terry Wright, emergency reponse coordinator and public information officer for the department in Price in a cell phone conversation on Monday morning. “Utah is well prepared because they began working toward this kind of scenario a long time ago.”
Pandemic flu has been a concern of health officials world wide for many years. In the worst outbreak in modern times, between 20 and 40 million people world wide died in 1918 from what was then termed the “Spanish Flu.” So when the word pandemic is mentioned people reflect back to that time, yet no flu has been nearly as bad as that since that time.
However this flu strain is nothing to take lightly. The deaths in Mexico means it is capable of causing great suffering to those that become inflicted. Flu outbreaks often start with animals. The pandemic everyone has been concerned with the past few years is a flu simply termed the “Bird Flu' but it has yet to show up in a pandemic, but officials have been preparing. The Swine Flu is another strain that is appearing now. Reportedly pigs are incubators of influenza viruses and can be infected with more than one type of virus from various species. It is thought they are critical in the evolution of new influenza flu viruses that can jump the "species barrier" from animals into humans to cause pandemic flu outbreaks.
“It is called the Swine Flu,” said Wright. “But contrary to what some may believe you can't get the disease from eating pork. As far as we know it is like pretty much every other kind of flu we see; it is passed from person to person.”
The state has already asked for its allotment of anti-viral drugs to help with the situation. However flu can evolve and one kind of flu will not be influenced by another mutated type that may come along.
Wright says that the main thing people should do is follow the rules of personal responsibility and respiratory etiquette when it comes to controlling any kind of flu and the possibility of a swine flu outbreak is no exception.
Wash hands regularly and often; this helps to control the spreading of flu bugs of all kinds.
For those that are coughing or sneezing, they should expell into a handkerchief, a kleenex or even into their sleeve if they have to to keep from spreading germs.
Those that get sick should call their health care provider and let them know. Then a proper course of action can be followed.
Those that get ill should not go to work or school. That is the best way to spread the disease.
Please continue to check the Emery County Progress web site for updates as they may come from the health department concerning developments concerning the Swine Flu.