Although there have been no confirmed cases of swine flu in Oklahoma, state and local officials are encouraging Oklahomans to protect themselves against the illness.


 


Google Map of Swine Flu outbreaks


Although there have been no confirmed cases of swine flu in Oklahoma, state and local officials are encouraging Oklahomans to protect themselves against the illness.


“Panic is not helpful, but caution is,” Gov. Brad Henry said Monday. “That means practicing proper hygiene and visiting a healthcare provider if you start having symptoms consistent with the flu.”


Carter County Health Department Administrative Director Mendy Spohn said residents need to become familiar with the flu’s symptoms and take steps to avoid the virus. Health department staff contacted area schools Monday to make sure they have swine flu fact sheets and practice good hygiene. As a community service, Ardmore City Schools posted information about the illness on its Web site, www.ardmoreschools.org.


“Ardmore City Schools is maintaining close communications with the Carter County Health Department to monitor the swine flu situation. The district encourages parents and students to monitor our Web site and the Centers for Disease Control Web site for up-to-date information,” Superintendent Dr. Ruth Ann Carr said in a prepared statement. “In addition, we encourage everyone to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for prevention.”

 

Google Map of Swine Flu outbreaks


Swine flu symptoms in humans are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu. Antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, are available for treating the disease. The antiviral drugs are most effective when taken within 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.


State epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said the state has about 65,000 doses of such drugs available now. The U.S. government released additional supplies from the national stockpile Monday so healthcare providers will be ready should the number of cases escalate. Oklahoma should receive its share of that stockpile within days, which should give the state about 135,000 doses, Bradley said.


The CDC said Tuesday the country has 64 confirmed cases across five states, with 45 in New York, one in Ohio, two in Kansas, six in Texas and 10 in California.


Although health officials said the virus is expected to spread and some deaths are likely, it is much too early to consider the outbreak a pandemic.


“We are definitely concerned, but it’s not a time for alarm,” Spohn said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

For more information about swine flu, call the state health departments toll-free number (866) 278-7134.  Phones will be answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m,, Monday through Friday. Additional information is available at www.health.ok.gov.