by Hank Sims
"We're in the first leg of a marathon," said Humboldt County Public Health Officer Dr. Ann Lindsay at a press conference on swine flu a few moments ago.
Good news first. There have been 8 cases cases of swine flu so far in California, Lindsay said -- she didn't include this late-breaking case in Sacto -- and epidemiologists have spent a massive amount of effort studying those cases. Their conclusion: This new flu doesn't seem to be any more virulent than your average strain. Only about 13 percent of the people who came into contact with the California infectees themselves came down sick. And everyone patient in the U.S. has recovered nicely, so far.
In fact, Lindsay insisted that there is no solid evidence that swine flu has actually killed anyone at all -- even in Mexico. She said that researchers there simply are not sure. There's no doubt that swine flu is spreading around quickly down there, but so are more common variants of the flu virus. It's not impossible that the disease has killed people, but it is true that most media reports on fatalities from the disease contained the word "suspected" in there somewhere.
But Lindsay said that Humboldt County is ramping up its monitoring, and health officials here are participating in daily conference calls with the California Department of Public Health. There have been no confirmed or suspected cases in Humboldt County to date. The county does have emergency measures at the ready, including the possibility of school closures and such, but we're a long way away from that. There are a couple of antiviral drugs that have some effectiveness in combating the swine flu, and the county maintains a stockpile of them for at-risk individuals in that becomes necessary.
Humboldthealthalert.org is your source for breaking Humboldt County swine flu info; the "health alerts" section currently contains a great deal of information, including tips on how to prevent the spread of the disease, if it comes to that.