Monday, April 27, 2009

Florida Department of Health is Ready to Respond to Swine Flu

While no cases have been identified in Florida at this time, swine flu has been confirmed in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“This is a situation where we must all be on the alert,” said Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros, Florida’s State Surgeon General. “We have increased our surveillance and we’re telling doctors that with flu season waning, if they see patients with sudden onset of high fever and a cough or sore throat, they should collect a specimen for testing.”

Dr. Viamonte Ros said the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and county health department have response plans and have put them into play. “Our state laboratories have the equipment necessary and our personnel are trained in identifying influenza samples.  We have increased surveillance, alerted doctors and are working with our local county health departments,” she said.

Florida has prepared for influenza events: 

·        All state laboratories have the facilities to safely identify influenza samples. 

·        The state has almost 100 sentinel physicians who report any unusual influenza-like activity to DOH and the CDC. 

·        We have the ability to monitor the sale of over the counter drugs, as an early warning sign for increased influenza activity.

The State Surgeon General provided these recommendations:

·        As always, individuals with respiratory illness should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading infections, including influenza, to others in the community.

·        Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.

·        Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

·        Wash your hands frequently to lessen the spread of respiratory illness.

·        If you have cough, fever and fatigue, possibly with diarrhea and vomiting, you should contact your physician or health care provider.

Swine flu viruses are not transmitted through food and you cannot get swine flu from eating pork products.  The infections appear to spread from person to person.  Anti-viral drugs can reduce the consequences of the flu, if taken early. 

Dr. Viamonte Ros said Florida is receiving regular updates from the CDC, and is working with local county health departments to monitor the situation and immediately follow up on any suspected cases.  The CDC has created a web page with information at .