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Governor responds to first Georgia swine flu case

The first confirmed Swine Flu case has been reported in LaGrange, a city north of Columbus.

According to WSB-TV (Atlanta), the infected patient, a 30-year-old female, is from Kentucky, but was visiting family members in LaGrange after returning from a trip to Cancun, Mexico, on April 21. She has been hospitalized in LaGrange since April 26.

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued the following statement Thursday regarding the first H1N1 flu case in Georgia being confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control:

“Today’s confirmed case of the H1N1 flu in Georgia is a reason for precaution, not panic. I want to stress that it is an isolated case appearing in a woman visiting our state for an event who had also recently traveled to Mexico,” Perdue said. “I encourage Georgians to follow the advice of public health professionals and take the recommended precautions to protect themselves and their families. At this stage, the simplest things—washing hands and using disinfectants—can be the most effective safeguards. I am confident in our planning and preparation and our ability to respond over the coming days.”

The most up-to-date information on H1N1 flu developments in Georgia is available at the Division of Public Health’s Web site at http://health.state.ga.us/swineflu/.

Testing for Swine Flu

Mounting concerns about Swine Flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, are prompting residents to ask about testing, but tests aren’t needed except for patients with specific symptoms outlined by the National Centers for Disease Control, says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

“Today as Georgia has its first confirmed H1N1 case, it is more important than ever to be aware of the news and to follow public health instructions,” Grant said. “The CDC has set specific criteria for health care providers that must be met for Swine Flu tests to be administered. If a patient fails to meet these criteria, swabs should not be taken and may not be processed by the lab.”

The positive case in Georgia is a 30-year-old woman from Kentucky who had visited Cancun, Mexico. She is hospitalized. Her family was tested for Swine Flu and came back negative.

The criteria:

Must have a fever of 100 degrees F or higher, a cough and/or sore throat and other flu-like symptoms;

Must live in an area with a confirmed case of Swine Flu or have visited an area with a confirmed case within the past seven days or be in close contact (such as a family member) of someone with a confirmed case of Swine Flu.

“We want to emphasize that the same recommendations we have been making: to stay home if you are sick; to keep sick children at home; to wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water and to see your health care provider if you have severe symptoms,” Grant said. “Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs that has had limited transmission to humans in the past. What concerns us about this particular swine flu—H1N1—is that we are seeing person-to-person transmission.”

The virus is spread mainly through coughing and sneezing, she said. For now, there are no plans to call for schools to close or for people to avoid large gatherings, she said.

Tips for keeping healthy

The Southwest Georgia Public Health District Office offers the following general health tips that can help people avoid becoming ill:

1) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

2) Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

3) Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

4) Avoid close contact with sick people.

5) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

6) If you get influenza-like illness symptoms, stay home from work or school except to seek medical care and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.