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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swine Flu Confirmed In Potter County

Influenza A/H1N1 (formerly referred to a “swine flu”) has reached Potter County with a confirmed diagnosis of one case this week. The case was diagnosed at Charles Cole Memorial Hospital and the patient recovered without requiring hospitalization.

According to the Pa. Department of Health, since the beginning of June, the flu has been spreading rapidly. As of Monday, there were 1,325 confirmed and 56 probable cases of illness due to the virus in at least 41 of the state’s 67 counties. That’s more than a fourfold increase since Memorial Day. In Pennsylvania, at least a dozen victims have been hospitalized and three have died.

Potter County Department of Emergency Services and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital are coordinating their activities with the State Health Department. Officials emphasize that there is no reason to panic. They’ll soon be issuing an updated set of recommendations the public should follow (see below) to reduce the risk of contracting the H1N1 virus.

Symptoms of the illness are similar to the seasonal flu and include fever, lethargy, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, lack of appetite, and coughing. There is currently no vaccine available to protect against the virus — latest estimates are that one will not be available until at least October — but the flu can be treated with certain antiviral drugs if it’s caught in the first 48 hours. Victims are advised to isolate themselves if they contract the flu because it is contagious. Steps people can take to avoid spreading the flu include:

• stay home if sick;
• cough/sneeze into a tissue;
• wash hands frequently with warm soap/water or use an antibacterial gel;
• drink plenty of fluids;
• eat a balanced diet;
• get plenty of rest and exercise.

Cole Hospital has established an informational “hotline” about local conditions/issues that can be reached by dialing 260-5279. The Health Department website is regularly updated, available at www.health.state.pa.us. The site includes a map and chart showing a county-by-county breakdown of H1N1 cases. Potter County Today

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