State Health Department officials say they’re prepared for cases of swine flu in Oklahoma.
"Oklahoma has taken the emerging of this new flu virus very seriously,” Rocky McElvany, interim commissioner of health, said Monday. "In Oklahoma, we are ready to respond.”
Cases of a new strain of swine flu have been reported in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. No one in the U.S. is known to have died of the illness. Oklahomans are asked to use caution when traveling to Mexico, the apparent epicenter of the disease’s outbreak.
The state Health Department has a stockpile of antiviral drugs for 65,000 courses of antiviral drugs to treat infected people. A course is a series of doses needed during a prescribed period of treatment. The state will get 135,000 more drug courses from the federal government.
There have been no confirmed human cases of the new swine flu in Oklahoma.
"We anticipate finding cases in Oklahoma very soon,” state Epidemiologist Kristy Bradley said. She said Oklahomans should not panic because the U.S. cases have not been as severe as those in Mexico, where deaths are reported.
Oklahoma doctors have been asked to send nasal or throat swabs from patients with flu-like symptoms to the state’s public health laboratory for testing.
County health departments also are monitoring the situation. Health officials say Oklahomans can take actions to protect themselves, including frequent hand washing and staying home if they or their children become ill with flu-like symptoms.
Dr. Ronald Greenfield, an infectious disease specialist with OU Physicians, said while a pandemic is possible, it’s more likely the outbreak will fizzle out.