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Swine flu still not confirmed in Pike County

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Though potential swine flu cases have been sent for testing from Pike County, none have been confirmed as the disease. Still, local health officials are preparing for potential outbreak.

State Health Department officials said Tuesday nine samples from around Alabama are being tested for swine flu, some of which come from Pike County. Results are expected to be announced Wednesday.

Even if those are negative, Pike County Health Department Administrator Ron Wheeler said he expects the disease will hit someone locally before the outbreak is through.

“There will be cases I’m sure at some point in time in Alabama, probably people on vacation visiting Mexico,” Wheeler said. “I’m quite sure there will be cases before it’s over.”

Wheeler and Troy University’s Dean of Student Services Herb Reeves said none of those nine samples came through their facilities.

Troy Regional Medical Center CEO Rusty Eldridge said Monday the hospital did not have any suspected cases either, and Tuesday Chief of Nursing Jennifer Ventress said that still remained true for now.

Swine flu symptoms are similar to the typical influenza virus — high fever, cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints — only it is also a respiratory infection, Wheeler said.

Those experiencing any of these symptoms should avoid going to school or work, Wheeler said.

But, if symptoms are more severe, like difficulty breathing, Wheeler said residents should seek physician care.

The main thing, Ventress said, is to avoid panic at this time.

Both Ventress and Wheeler said the institutions are prepared for potential cases.

“We are on heightened alert, as is everyone else,” Ventress said. “We are going to do what the Center for Disease Control advises.”

Flu shots given locally will not prevent anyone from getting swine flu, since it is a new disease in humans.

Prevention is to wash hands, avoid touching eyes and mouth and cough or sneeze into a tissue or sleeve, Wheeler said.

There will be a briefing from the state health department at 11 a.m. today on the latest results from the samples.