Oklahoma Has Its First Case Of Swine Flu

Tuesday, May 5th 2009, 10:37 am
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The first Oklahoma case of swine flu virus H1N1 has been confirmed.

A woman in Pontotoc County, south of Oklahoma City, had symptoms after returning from a trip to Mexico. She has since recovered and returned to work.

State health officials say finding a H1N1 case in Oklahoma was expected.

"Confirmation of this case in Oklahoma isn't cause for panic," said Dr. Scott Sproat, service chief for the health department. "We knew it was only a matter of time before this was confirmed in our state, and efforts are already under way to control it."

The case is believed to be isolated. The woman started feeling sick about a week and half ago, on her way home from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta.

She went to the doctor and got a prescription for Tamiflu.

"She recognized that she might be contagious to other people and stayed home from work until she was cleared by her physician to go back," said Dr. Kristy Bradley, state epidemiologist.

In other states where the virus was confirmed, some people started wearing masks in public and some schools have closed. Federal officials now say that it's unnecessary.

In Tulsa, officials continue to monitor hospitals and clinics for anyone with symptoms, but for everyone else.

"Right now, the best thing to do is to continue business as usual and practice those good health habits, washing hands, covering your coughs and if you're ill, go ahead and avoid contact with other people," said Melanie Christian, spokeswoman for the Tulsa County Health Department.

Health officials anticipate more cases of swine flu will be found in Oklahoma, and four test results are pending with the Centers for Disease Control.

"The confirmation of a case in the state means citizens should be cautious, but not fearful," Gov. Brad Henry said. "It simply means that Oklahomans should continue to take commonsense measures to avoid getting the virus, and to see a doctor if they experience flu-like symptoms. Oklahoma's healthcare and public safety communities have the resources and personnel in place to handle any challenges posed by H1N1 flu."

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The symptoms of H1N1 influenza are similar to seasonal influenza and include fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

The virus is spread person-to-person, not by eating pork or pork products.

Currently there is no vaccine to prevent H1N1 flu and the current flu vaccine used to prevent seasonal influenza will not provide protection against this new flu strain.

Oklahoma joins 38 other states with cases of swine flu confirmed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The OSDH reminds the public to continue to practice these recommendations to prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Wash hands often to protect yourself from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are often spread when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or "sneeze in your sleeve."
  • If you are sick, stay home from work, school, church and running errands. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.