State of Louisiana FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of the Governor
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL
April 26, 2009
Press Office: Melissa Sellers, Kyle Plotkin
Contact: 225-342-8006, (c) 225-328-3755
State of Louisiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference to discuss the state’s aggressive action to get ahead of the swine outbreak and stress the importance of citizens taking steps to prevent against illness. The swine outbreak has sickened 20 people in the U.S. and hundreds more in Mexico, and it is being closely monitored by state and federal agencies.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, “We have been working here to get ahead of this virus. GOHSEP has activated their Crisis Action Team to monitor the national trends on this and any reported cases in Louisiana. On Friday, LDH officials notified hospitals and physicians through the state’s Health Alert Network, and activated a statewide surveillance system of “sentinel physicians” – a group of private doctors who volunteer to serve as a ‘front line’ of detection to assist in any public health or infectious disease investigation.
“We are working with the LA Hospital Association, which is doing an assessment of their capacity, and we are working with Louisiana pharmacies to assess the availability of anti-flu drugs. Regional OPH medical directors are also in the process of communicating with each hospital in their region to confirm receipt of a Health Alert and to answer any questions. LDH also reached out to statewide faith-based organizations Saturday evening to ask their assistance in spreading the message of aggressive prevention to their members during services today. Additionally, LDH has reached out to the Department of Education to coordinate prevention messages in schools.”
Governor Jindal stressed that there are currently NO CONFIRMED cases of swine flu in Louisiana, at this time.
The Governor also stressed the importance of individuals taking precautions against the swine flu. “You can take action to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as influenza,” Governor Jindal said. “Make sure you: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it; Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze; Use alcohol-based hand cleaners; Avoid close contact with sick people.
“If you get sick with influenza, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the spread of germs.”
The Governor also highlighted that symptoms of the swine flu include: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. He warned that if anyone is experiencing these symptoms they should consult their doctor as soon as possible. Medical officials can help determine if an individual has the swine flu.
The Governor also said that Louisiana has 370,443 Tamiflu treatment courses and 94,360 Relenza treatment courses stockpiled in the state. In addition, there are 48,120 thirty milligram and 16,045 45-milligram pediatric anti-viral doses available. There are another 669,000 courses earmarked for Louisiana in the national stockpile. The CDC is offering the state 25 percent of that stockpile, which will ship in the next seven days.
LDH officials are shipping 30,000 specimen collection kits to the sentinel physicians and will have specimens tested for infection, as needed. The Department is also working with the Louisiana Hospital Association to track hospital patient volume and working with the Louisiana Pharmacists Association to monitor antiviral supplies.
LDH has also cautioned that clinicians should consider the possibility of swine influenza virus infections in patients presenting with respiratory illness and fever and urges them to review CDC guidelines for identification and treatment. If swine flu is suspected, clinicians should obtain a respiratory swab for swine influenza testing and place it in a refrigerator (not a freezer). Once collected, the clinician should contact the LDH Office of Public Health to facilitate transport and timely diagnosis at our state public health laboratory.
Swine Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses.
For more information on Swine Flu, visit www.flula.com.