Tulsa Health Officials Prepare For Swine Flu

Sunday, April 26th 2009, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- World leaders are scrambling to avoid a possible pandemic.

They say swine flu may have killed as many as 86 people in Mexico, and there are 20 confirmed cases in the U.S.

Swine flu has already caused a panic in Mexico, where churches, markets and restaurants were closed this weekend. Many who ventured outside did so with protective masks on.

There are two cases in Kansas and two more in Texas. None is life-threatening.

"I guess the good news to all this is that the cases here in the United States are mild, and everyone who has been infected has recovered," said Gary Cox, director of the Tulsa Health Department.

Cox says he and his employees will monitor the swine flu situation closely.

On Sunday, the health department participated in a conference call with the Centers for Disease Control.

It has also been in touch with EMSA, area hospitals and local schools, so the department will know of any sudden spikes in patients or absent students.

"We don't know what the future will hold, so we'll be prepared for that," Cox said. "We'll be heightening our surveillance here in Tulsa County."

Cox is encouraging anyone who has been to Mexico recently to be especially wary. Many of those infected in the U.S. had traveled there.

Still, the health department stresses that, for now, there's no reason to panic.

"Our philosophy is you prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Cox said. "Fortunately, the cases in the United States have been mild, and so that's what we're hoping will continue."

The health department is encouraging people to take precautions like frequent hand-washing.

Learn more about swine flu.