Officials Say No Swine Flu In Houston Area

Local health officials are keeping a close watch on the swine flu situation. There are dozens of known cases in the United States, but all of the sick are said to be recovering and so far, only one person has needed to go to the hospital. Even so, local officials are following the situation closely. Bill Stamps has more.
It's hard to turn on the television or radio without hearing something about swine flu.

"We are officially reporting 40 confirmed cases in the United States in 5 states."

So what is it exactly? The swine flu is a type A flu virus that is normally seen in pigs. Human cases of the virus usually originate in people who work with pigs. Dr. Gail Dimmler Harrison is a pediatrician at the Baylor School of Medicine .

"It may have initially come from contact with pigs but now it appears to have the ability to spread from person to person."

There are no reported cases in the Houston area. Porfilio Villareal is with the Houston Health and Human Services. Although no one in the area has come down with the swine flu, he says they're monitoring the situation closely and are ready to act should they see a need.

"That means that we're looking at any possible cases, so we have a laboratory that is able to look at any samples given."

Symptoms of the swine flu are the same as those of other types of flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, all of which may be more severe in those who are already sick or have chronic medical condition.

Evelyn Henry is HISD's health director. They're not really doing anything different on school campuses other than making sure students practice good hygiene:

"Teaching kids about hand washing, encouraging hand washing, being sure we have facilities in place so they can wash their hands.Or if they cough, or if they sneeze cough into a tissue and to dispose of those, but if they don't have tissue to cough into the sleeve."

Although officials are monitoring the situation, as Henry says, there's really no need to worry at this point.

"We don't want parents to panic and to think that something is just going to attack their kids and do bad things to them, (be)cause we know schools are safe places."

She says they have a plan to notify parents immediately should the situation change.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio news.