Authorities on lookout for swine flu

No illness in Colorado yet, but doctors expect it soon

Swine flu has yet to appear in Colorado, but the state’s chief medical officer expects to see the illness show up in Colorado “in the near future.”

Authorities said they remain vigilant for any signs of an outbreak as the illness expanded to 40 people in five states.

Federal officials have confirmed 40 cases of swine flu and are urging Americans to delay most travel to Mexico.

More than 1,600 cases of swine flu have been reported in Mexico, and the suspected death toll there is nearly 150.

Mesa County officials, meanwhile, are keeping up with reports from state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and are working with health-care providers in the Grand Valley to make sure they are aware of the signs of the flu.

Word also was sent out to fruit growers who hire seasonal workers to be aware of the symptoms of swine flu and to let workers know about the help line for people who suspect they or someone they know is suffering from the viral illness.

The toll-free CO-Help hotline — 1-877-462-2911 — is staffed 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and callers may report symptoms or ask questions in English or Spanish, said Kristy Emerson, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Health Department.

Posters also have been distributed to schools and students are being encouraged, as always, to stay home if they show signs of illness, District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

There was no sign of increased absenteeism Monday at district schools, Kirtland said.

With precautions being taken around the globe, health officials urged that people take appropriate precautions to avoid catching or spreading the flu.

Swine flu has most of the same symptoms as other flu strains — fever, chills, sore joints, aches — but some people also reported vomiting and diarrhea, Emerson said.

In most cases, symptoms will be mild and sufferers can and should stay home, Emerson said.

More severe symptoms will call for treatment by a physician, however, she said.

People suffering from flu-like symptoms should cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, and avoid contact with others, but they needn’t buy mouth- and nose-covering masks.

Swine flu, or any flu, for that matter, “is not going to fall out of the air,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Health-care professionals are advised to stay at least 6 feet from someone who is coughing, and everyone else would do well to do the same, Calonge said, but they needn’t go looking for surgical masks.

“I’m not wearing one,” he said.


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