April 30, 2009
Nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection on Wednesday according to the World Health Organization. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths. The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).
The World Health Organization on Wednesday raised the swine flu pandemic threat level to level 5 of 6. The Alaska Department of Health and Socal Services Emergency Operation Center announced it is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays to organize the medical response to this outbreak.
The state of Alaska has about 80,000 courses of antiviral medications in a state stockpile at this time. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services had already sent around 10,000 of those courses to 22 acute-care hospitals throughout the state in preparation for a possible flu outbreak. These hospitals are located throughout the state, from the North Slope to Western Alaska to Southeast Alaska.
The department plans to begin shipping additional supplies of antiviral medications in the next day or two, with shipments arriving in Alaska communities within the week. Finally, DHSS has ordered approximately 20,000 additional courses of antiviral medications to be shipped to Alaska from the Strategic National Stockpile. This supply should arrive in about a week.
Who will be the first to get these antiviral medications? DHSS will work with local governments throughout Alaska to dispense the antiviral medications. The medications will be used primarily for Alaskans who are sick with flu-like symptoms. The medications may also be used to prevent flu in exposed essential personnel. Tamiflu and Relenza are available only with a prescription; they are not sold over-the-counter.
If you have not received a flu shot during this flu season, should you get a flu shot now? According to information provided by Alaska Health and Social Services, there is no evidence that this year's flu shot offers any protection against swine flu.
What can you do to prevent getting swine flu, should it be detected in Alaska? Health officials recommend following the same advice given for preventing seasonal influenza:
The World Health Organization advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders. It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.
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