A scientist conducts experiments. The virus has not yet been confirmed in Oklahoma, but preparations are underway.
A breakthrough could lead to quicker testing to determine if a patient has the swine flu.
Researchers are trying to find an efficient antibody to fight the virus.
By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Negative tests for swine flu came from five Oklahoma patients with flu-like symptoms, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on top Oklahoma researchers to continue to find clues about the rampant virus.
Many in the medical community say it's only a matter of time before the swine flu hits Oklahoma and local researchers have been enlisted to help fight the outbreak.
"This was work we were doing," Dr. Judith James said. "Trying to understand the human immune response and the flu."
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation makes antibodies that bind to the seasonal flu that hits the state every year.
"If one of our antibodies is able to cross react with the swine flu, then that could lead to a rapid screening test for us to make a diagnosis much quicker," Dr. James said.
The antibodies could also help develop an effective vaccine. In the meantime, swine flu has not been confirmed in Oklahoma, but public concern is growing.
"I suspect if, and most likely when, this comes to Oklahoma that will certainly increase," Dr. David Chansolme said of the growing concern.
The emergency room at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center is seeing its share of sick patients, but so far no one has shown symptoms of swine flu.
Hospital staffs continue their preparations.
"We've been educating our staff and making sure we have our epidemic illness protocols in place," Dr. Chansolme said. "It's got to be on everybody's radar."
Swine flu is spread through human to human contact, not from pigs.
The symptoms are much like the regular flu, including high fever, aches, coughing and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.
The OMRF has already started shipping the antibodies to the CDC.
Learn more about the swine flu by contacting the Oklahoma Health Department at 866-278-7134.