Local officials monitor Swine Flu situation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

 
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Local officials monitor Swine Flu situation

By Ben Watson - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A deadly Swine Flu outbreak was two levels short of being declared a full pandemic late Monday afternoon, and as word of the virus' movement across North America spread, officials at the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department were kept busy.

"We are in the process of investigating and keeping tabs on everything that is going on, so we're staying on this very closely," Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cynthia King said.

King said she and others at the Health Department have been in numerous conference calls with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

"I think we need to be cautious about it but not panic," he said. "I think that's the thing to stress. Don't panic about this."

King said everything possible is being done to study how the flu has spread in Mexico and the United States.  Efforts are under way right now to explain to the public the flu's symptoms, and offer suggestions on how to avoid it.

"Wash your hands often," she said. "If you have to cough, cough into your jacket or something akin to that. Cover your sneeze, and wash your hands afterwards."

The Health Department is paying more attention to people who exhibit flu-like symptoms.  Samples are being collected for testing by Tennessee's Public Health Laboratory.

The goal now: be proactive.

"If you don't have immunity, then this influenza can easily spread through a community, so I think people are already thinking, 'Does this have pandemic implications?' I think its too soon to say that yet."

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