Mesa County receives shipment of antiviral medicine

Mesa County received its share of a national stockpile of antiviral medicine Friday, but officials emphasized it will be available only if a swine flu emergency erupts.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment distributed supplies of liquid and pill medication and inhalers to 13 locations throughout the state, as the number of confirmed cases of swine flu held steady at two. The allocation is intended to prepare for additional cases in Colorado.

Mesa County Health Department spokeswoman Kristy Emerson said officials aren’t sure how
many people they could treat with the medication because dosages differ for adults and children.

The antivirals can help lessen the severity of symptoms in sick individuals and possibly prevent people from catching the virus. But the medicine is not a vaccine and therefore cannot guarantee against infection, she said.

“The biggest point that we want to make is this is for an emergency,” Emerson said. “This is if we exhaust all the antivirals available in the community.”

She also noted that although the Health Department received the shipment, it will not be in charge of distributing the medicine, should the need arise. That responsibility will fall to health-care providers who will prescribe the antivirals to their patients.


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