Is Florida Prepared for Swine Flu?

As of approximately 3:30 pm this afternoon, there were 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S.  Are Florida government officials prepared to handle any possible reported outbreak here in Florida?

According to Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros, they are prepared for the worst.  While there have been no reported cases in Florida, the Surgeon General said we should not be surprised to see it show here.

Indeed, a patient in an Orlando hospital was treated with flu like symptoms and had recent contact with Mexico.  Since the patient met the criteria for swine flu, the hospital sent a sample to the CDC for testing.

However, one gets the feeling that with all of the cruise ships that sail in/out of Orlando and the vast numbers of tourists who visit our state each year, it’s really just a matter of time before it shows up here.  As a precaution, all of the cruise lines have discontinued stopping at ports in Mexico even though the cases there are concentracted in Mexico City.

According  to Florida’s Department of Health pandemic action plan:

“Florida’s geographic and demographic characteristics make it particularly vulnerable to importation and spread of infectious diseases, including influenza,” the plan states. “Nearly one-third of Florida’s population resides in urban/suburban areas of three southeastern counties, including large populations of immigrants.

“Florida’s two interstate road systems bring in thousands of tourists each year. The two largest of the 13 international airports are in Orlando and Miami; 38,000,000 visitors used air travel in year 2000.”

As for a full-blown pandemic, the Surgeon General reported:

“We are prepared as a state, our laboratories are prepared. We all are working in concert to make sure we are doing whatever needs to be done to keep our residents as safe as possible and as informed as possible.”

Additionally, the Federal government has sent suuplies of vaccine and medical equipment from storage to all states as a precaution.

According to the CDC, “influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)

Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms.

If you need  more information, you can log onto the CDC’s website.



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