BATON ROUGE—The Louisiana Department of Health is monitoring a Swine Influenza (swine flu) virus strain confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in several cases in Arkansas, California and Texas. There are no confirmed or reported cases in Louisiana at this time.

 “Our infectious disease specialists in our Office of Public Health are on the alert,” said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. “We are maintaining communication with our state laboratory and the CDC, monitoring recommendations for this situation, and will respond with recommended action for health care workers and the public as needed.”

 “The Department has already notified hospitals and physicians statewide of the existence of swine flu in the U.S. and shipped specimen collection kits to sentinel physicians across the state. These physicians volunteer with the Department and serve as a ‘front line’ of detection to assist in any public health or infectious disease investigation,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer.

 Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.

 From December 2005 through February 2009, a total of 12 human infections with swine influenza were reported from 10 states in the United States.

 Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in California, Texas, and Mexico have been identified. An investigation into these cases is ongoing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 As always, any Louisiana citizen experiencing flu-like symptoms should consult his or her physician.

 “We also want to remind our citizens about the importance of following good hygiene (frequent hand washing) as well as a healthy lifestyle (adequate sleep, sound diet) in preventing the transmission of any flu virus,” said Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary M. Rony Francois, MD, MSPH, Ph.D.

 For more information on swine flu, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swine/.

 The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

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