Baton Rouge- Governor Bobby Jindal and state officials held a press conference to give an update on eight possible H1N1 (swine flu) cases in Louisiana and what precautions the state is taking to prevent against the further spread of illness.
Governor Jindal said that the state has now received a total of 148 unique samples to test for the H1N1 virus. The eight suspected cases in four parishes (Orleans, Lafayette, St. Martin and St. Tammany) could not be identified by the Office of Public Health laboratory in New Orleans and have been sent to the CDC lab in Atlanta for confirmation.
Governor Jindal said, “I want to be clear that at this time we still have NO confirmed cases in Louisiana. We expect results to come in from the CDC in two to four days on each of these cases. In the meantime, we are urging Louisianians to continue to use caution against the spread of illness. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, and if you do experience flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor and stay away from large public areas.”
The Governor said that state epidemiological teams are currently onsite in all four parishes conducting investigations on the suspected cases. All family members, friends and contacts of the suspected cases are being swabbed and interviewed.
The Governor also said that the state has begun prepositioning the federal stockpile of antiviral resources – totaling 140,000 courses. Health officials stressed that the federal stockpiles supply are a backup option, and that medical officials should continue to order supplies of the antiviral from private pharmacies as they usually would. The federal resources will be used if private antiviral resources run low. The Governor said that the National Guard is working with State Police to preposition these federal supplies in the state, so they can be available if needed.
Governor Jindal said that those individuals who have an existing heart or respiratory condition should take special precautions at this time, just as they would during any flu season, by avoiding large groups of people. He said this is different than an average flu season because the swine flu is a new virus that individuals would not be able to vaccinate themselves against, as immunocompromised individuals would usually do to prevent against the flu.
Governor Jindal said that the U.S. Department of Education today recommended that any schools with a CONFIRMED swine flu case should consider closing for seven days (out from the last positive test result of a student). While there are still no confirmed cases of the swine flu in Louisiana, the Governor said state officials recommend that local schools who may have a student come down with flu-like symptoms contact their local Office of Public Health to determine the best course of action for their students.
The Governor said that GOHSEP has been elevated to a Level 4 activation, which means a partial activation of the emergency command structure that will stay in close contact with local officials across the state and consult with them on possible cases. GOHSEP’s Joint Information Center was also activated today.
The Division of Administration will be sending a message to all state employees and supervisors to give guidance for how they should prepare to continue their operations while requesting that employees experiencing flu- like symptoms stay at home either on sick leave (if they are sick) or work from home, as needed.
The Department of Social Services is communicating precautions and protocols to their 75 group homes to prevent against the possible spread of the virus, and they are also taking necessary actions to protect the health of the 5,000 children under their supervision in foster care.
The Department of Corrections is closing visitations to state prisons for the next 14 days, as a precautionary measure to prevent against the possible spread of illness. They are also stopping tours and non-emergency trips, and minimizing transportation. They will have no transfers of inmates for 14 days, and have worked with state officials to suspend parole hearings for one week.
PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY
Governor Jindal stressed again that Louisianians take precautions to protect themselves against the spread of illness. To prevent against the spread of germs:
- 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. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, 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. Germs spread this way.
- Symptoms of swine flu include:
- Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms – Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
For more information on swine flu you can visit http://www.flula.com/.