05/03/09 — Wayne wary of swine flu

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Wayne wary of swine flu

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 3, 2009 2:00 AM

What does the swine flu mean to citizens of Wayne County?

Health Director James Roosen discussed some of the basics as they pertain to the area community, speaking with the News-Argus on Friday afternoon.

"People may be concerned about this H1N1 -- we're not supposed to call it swine flu any more," he said. "I think the first thing people want to know is, am I safe and are my children safe?

"Right now, we know that there's over 100 cases in the United States but they're mainly contained in specific states."

The number of possbile swine flu cases in North Carolina doubled Saturday to four, although state health officials said none had been confirmed by federal tests.

As to how prevalent the illness is and areas of concern, Roosen said he is reassured by the fact that there is plenty of helpful information available to the public.

"I think it's 19 states now that have been affected," he said.

Roosen likened the swine flu to the seasonal flu because the symptoms are the same.

"It's not a severe illness. The reason that we're concerned in public health is because it's a virus that we haven't seen before and it's also spread fairly easily between people," he said.

"So, what are we to do? We're doing a lot of public education. We've had a lot of discussions from a lot of different agencies --the school system, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Mount Olive College, human service providers, day cares -- so we have good surveillance in place, which means we should be able to detect a case of swine flu fairly easily."

It also helps that the public is very well-informed, he said.

"If their child, for example, has a fever, sore throat, a runny nose, they'll probably take their child to the doctor," Roosen said.

For the moment, there's not a lot of cause for alarm, he said.

"We're meeting every day on the statewide conference call," he said. "We talk to the experts within the state. Their job is to keep their finger on the pulse with what's going on in our state, as well as nationally and worldwide."

There are other reasons to be relieved at this point, the health director said. To date, there have only been the four cases reported in North Carolina, he said, and secondly, in most cases across the country, they have "clusters of cases."

"In South Carolina, for example, we have had some cases," he said. "But the good news about that is that they're all together, so that makes it real easy to contain."

Roosen cautioned the public against becoming too alarmed.

"What they should do is recognize the symptoms and then go see the doctor, or if they don't see the doctor, just isolate yourself," he said. "In other words, don't go to work, stay home, try to protect your family as best you can, and that's called 'self-isolation."