State Health Officials announced tonight that six cases believed to be the H1N1 Swine Flu have occurred in Washington. The cases include three in Seattle, two in Snohomish County and one in Spokane County. The patients are a boy who attends Madrona Elementary School, 33-year-old Seattle physician, and a man in his mid-twenties, all in Seattle; a six-year-old boy and a woman in her early forties have been found in Snohomish County. The case in Spokane was identified only as an adult male.
School Districts are monitoring the situation and will send announcements home if any school closures occur.
The best protective measures for people are to avoid contact with others who have the flu, and to practice good hygiene throughout the day – especially washing the hands often (sanitizers are also effective). Swine flu is much milder than the avian flu varieties that have produced such concern in recent years. Swine flu, however, is much easier to catch than avian flu. It can be spread through coughs, sneezes and even infected surfaces.
There are two drugs – both antiviral agents – that appear to be effective against swine flu. The drugs are Tamiflu and Relenza. King County currently has 190,000 doses of Tamiflu which can be used to treat people infected with or exposed to swine flu. The US Department of Health and Human Services is also sending another 260,000 courses of Tamiflu from the federal stockpile, released today.
Some links with good planning information and a more complete summary of tonight’s news conference by Washington State officials: