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July 28, 2021

Santa Cruz County prepares for swine flu

Santa Cruz County is marshaling its medical resources to detect and treat cases of swine flu that could soon impact the county.
The county Health Services Agency activated its rarely used departmental operations center on Tuesday, April 28, as 29 possible cases of the fast-spreading flu, which originated in Mexico, were reported this week by doctors.
The agency also put employees on 12-hour shifts seven days a week.
Samples from seven of the possible cases tested negative, and results for the remainder weren’t expected to be known until after press time late Wednesday, said Poki Namkung, county health officer.
“The situation is rapidly evolving,” she noted.
At a Wednesday morning press conference, Namkung said the county so far was swine flu-free, but that residents should expect to see cases soon.
Health officials say commonsense measures are sufficient to treat the flu in nearly all cases. (See Your Health column below.)
Ninety-one cases had been confirmed in the U.S. by Wednesday. Most have been mild, except for the case of a Mexican toddler who came to Texas for medical treatment but died.
Fourteen cases are in California, which has declared a state of medical emergency to cut red tape and make resources more quickly available to areas with infected patients.
However, the situation is much more grave in Mexico, where there have been at least 2,400 cases and a suspected 150 deaths.
The flu lasts between seven and 10 days and includes usual flu-like symptoms, plus nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a fever higher than 100 degrees and sometimes respiratory trouble.
There is no known vaccine to prevent this flu strain, and supplies of an antiviral agent that can help control it are being reserved for cases involving young children, the elderly and those with health complications, as well as for health care professionals.
Namkung said she is “very concerned,” because many county residents travel to and from Mexico and an influx of Mexican agricultural workers is expected for the about-to-begin strawberry harvest.
She said if necessary, the potential exists for more severe measures, such as closing schools and canceling large public events. Additionally, families should plan now for the possible need to isolate themselves at home for 10 days, she said.
“We could be fooled if we don’t prepare for the worst,” she said.
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