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Initial tests reveal no swine flu in N.C.

Posted April 28, 2009

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— Tests on 15 people in North Carolina suspected of having swine flu were negative, the state's public health director said Tuesday.

"I was very pleasantly surprised," Dr. Jeffrey Engel said, noting none of the 15 even tested positive for a seasonal flu. "The situation appears to be stable."

A few dozen samples still need to be tested in the coming days, Engel said, and more suspect cases continue to turn up around the state.

"These things change on an hour-to-hour basis," he said. "My guess is this is going to be ongoing for weeks to months. We're in for a long haul."

Dr. Jeffrey Engel So far, no swine flu in N.C.

One of the negative tests was for a traveler who got off a plane from Mexico in Charlotte and went to a hospital because of flu-like symptoms.

One other traveler also went to a Charlotte hospital this week with flu-like symptoms, Engel said. Tests are not complete on that person, who was about to return home to Texas but decided to see an emergency room physician.

Engel urged calm Tuesday as officials continue trying to determine if there are any "probable" cases of swine flu in North Carolina. People suspected of having the disease have been ordered to remain in isolation at home.

"We're treating suspects as if they have the disease," he said. "That's the best way to control it."

The state has resisted issuing any quarantine orders for healthy people who have been in contact with suspect cases, he said, noting that educating households about hygiene and how to maintain a proper distance from an ill person is enough at this point to keep the disease in check.

"We want science to be driving all of the policy," he said during a news conference. "We're not going to be running this issue with fear, but with scientific facts."

Where the cases of swine flu are

Across the country, health officials had identified 64 cases of swine flu – most in New York City – as of Tuesday evening. Of those, five have been hospitalized and none has died.

A handful of schools around the country have closed over swine flu fears and some people were wearing masks. Many people also canceled trips to Mexico after the government advised against unnecessary travel to the country.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that swine flu may be spreading beyond recent travelers to others in the United States.

The global health agency says, so far, most people confirmed with swine flu were in Mexico. In that country, the swine flu strain is suspected in more than 150 deaths, and more than 1,000 others may be suffering symptoms.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl says the source of some infections in the United States, Canada and Britain is unclear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 85 percent of the confirmed U.S. cases weren't associated with travel, according to Engel.

Yet, Cuba on Tuesday banned travel to Mexico. Several European countries also issued travel advisories.

Scotland and Spain reported confirmed cases of swine flu on Tuesday.

On Monday, Engel said the state is "better prepared" than ever to handle any potential outbreak of the virus in North Carolina. The state has a stockpile of 660,000 doses of treatment for the flu, if necessary.

North Carolina also will receive next week a quarter of its allotment from a national strategic stockpile of medications and masks, he said. But the commercial marketplace had more than enough supply of anti-viral drugs to meet state demand, he said.

Engel urged residents to take precautions by staying at home if they have flu-like symptoms, washing their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds and seeing a doctor if flu symptoms become serious.

"To ward off any potential, just be prudent as you would during normal flu season," he said.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to approve $1.5 billion to fight the outbreak. Money would go toward improved monitoring to identify and isolate suspected cases and upgrades in testing both to confirm cases and to develop vaccines.

28 Comments

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  • jbtilley Apr 29, 2009

    I'm no conspiracy theorist, but this merits a mention. I believe these guys have undercut their credibility to some degree. The initial reports withheld information from the public and even cited the desire to keep the public calm. Who's to say that they aren't keeping true test results secret in a further attempt to prevent the public from panicking?

    Like I said, I don't believe this to be the case. I'm just pointing out some of the potential consequences of their decision to be secretive with certain information that they felt would cause a stir with the public.

    I can see where they don't want to create 'much ado about nothing', but I hope they are more open with information in the future. Information can often help ease public worry.

  • time4real Apr 28, 2009

    tomorrow they'll tell us different whatcha wanna bet?

  • missdawg Apr 28, 2009

    Check out these comments:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/8018428.stm

  • Caveman93 Apr 28, 2009

    Well that's good! I just checked online to order masks and guess what? They are all out of stock! Just like when you try and shop for ammunition!! LOL! Yeah! It's going to be a fun Summer!

  • itsnews2me Apr 28, 2009

    They removed the earlier comment from the man eating pork from a buffet from the article. While eating pork may not put you at risk for swine flu, handling the same utensils at a buffet that scores of other people have handled (of varying hygenic practices)and then eating surely might!

  • Drakula_I_G Apr 28, 2009

    doggie - no more ham tartar, then? :-))

  • Quagmire Apr 28, 2009

    All that panic and fear mongering for nuthin.

  • doggie Apr 28, 2009

    You CAN get swine flu from eating pork if it is not cooked properly. The info below was copied directly from the CDC website. The answer to the question starts out a little misleading -read it all the way through.
    "Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?
    No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses."

  • shaggingmomma Apr 28, 2009

    The only way to get swine flu from eating pork is if someone with swine flu sneezed or coughed in your plate. Come on people. This is ridiculous.
    If you wash your hands before putting your hands near your face you do more to stop the spread of most respiratory viruses than the state's ineffective policies to protect you.
    The moral of the story? Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.

  • Drakula_I_G Apr 28, 2009

    That vaccine is not for this new "current" swine flu - it's for last year's strain. It's effectiveness for the new strain is highly doubted according to the big networks' reporting this morning. New vaccines not available for 4-6 months - but then, the strain could mutate sharply decreasing it's effectiveness.
    I predict a 50% population reduction. If it gets bad, that is.

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