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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 11:16 pm | Fair 46º


Officials Say No Swine Flu Cases Reported in Santa Barbara County

County Public Health Department monitoring border incident reports

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department officials are closely monitoring the swine flu investigations under way in California, Texas and Mexico, the agency said Friday.

To date, there have been eight confirmed cases of the H1N1 strain of swine flu in the United States — six in California (four in San Diego County and two in Imperial County) and two in Texas. All patients had mild symptoms and all have recovered. No cases of swine flu have been reported in Santa Barbara County at this time. Authorities in Mexico are testing to determine if the strains are the same there as in the United States.

The county Public Health Department has issued a Provider Alert to medical-care providers to inform them about the swine flu cases. Agency officials will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated information as it becomes available.

Although swine influenza viruses normally infect and cause illness in pigs, sporadic human infections with swine flu do occur occasionally. Most commonly, human cases of swine influenza happen when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig production barns and livestock exhibits. None of the cases of swine flu in California or Texas were known to have exposure to pigs.

The symptoms of swine influenza in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza infection and include fever, lethargy, coughing and lack of appetite. The seasonal influenza vaccine (i.e., flu shot) does not protect against swine H1N1 viruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who have flu symptoms should seek medical care and be tested for swine flu if they:

» Live in San Diego or Imperial counties or Guadalupe County, Texas, or traveled to these counties.

» Traveled recently to Mexico.

» Were in contact with persons who had flu-like symptoms and were in one of the three U.S. counties or Mexico during the seven days preceding their illness onset.

Individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to stop the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses:

» Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to friends and co-workers or students.

» Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.

» Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

» Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting adequate rest and exercise.

Click here for more information about swine influenza from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Michele Mickiewicz is a public information officer with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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