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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, May 2, 2009
Dr. Diana Yu, Thurston County Health Officer, 360-239-2745
Sherri McDonald, Director,  Thurston  County  Public Health & Social Services, 360-239-1520

Answers to Local Swine Flu H1N1 Concerns

OLYMPIA – Calls to Thurston County Public Health and Social Services about Swine Flu H1N1 have been steady over the past week, but are beginning to slow down.  So far, Swine Flu H1N1 cases in the United States appear milder with symptoms similar to usual influenza.  There are currently no cases of Swine Flu H1N1 in Thurston County . 

Swine Flu H1N1 is a new virus.  It is because of this that Dr. Diana Yu, the Thurston County Health Officer says "We are treating it with an abundance of caution, but we can tell you the things we encourage you to do each year around influenza season are exactly what you need to do now."

  • Wash your hands often using soap, warm water, and paper towels. 
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after use.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home from work, childcare, school or public gatherings when you are sick with a fever and cough.

"Health Department staff have been working hard to respond to the volume of calls coming in to our office each day," said Sherri McDonald, Department Director. "We have found that questions from local residents vary, but there are also some common concerns."  Here are answers to some of the more frequent questions.

When to see a Doctor

  • Many illnesses are circulating in the community that are not Swine Flu H1N1, including other types of influenza that we usually see.  Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild illness for which you would not ordinarily seek care.  If you are sick with fever and cough, call your health care provider before you go to see them.  Do not delay care if severely ill, but most people who are sick have milder flu-like symptoms.

    Should I stay home?
  • At this time, we are not recommending that community events be cancelled or public places be closed due to Swine Flu H1N1.  We are recommending that people who are sick with fever and cough stay home and away from public events and crowded places.

    Should I wear a mask?
  • Masks can help to prevent someone who is coughing and sneezing from spreading germs to others.  The only people who should be wearing a mask are those who have flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough. 

    What about being in contact with travelers?
  • Though Swine Flu H1N1 came to our attention based on the experience of Mexico , it is no longer true that your risk of coming into contact with someone who has Swine Flu H1N1 is connected to having recently traveled to or from a country with Swine Flu H1N1.  Swine Flu H1N1 has now been found in the U.S.

Swine Flu H1N1 is a respiratory disease that is spread from person-to-person by coming into contact with the germs spread when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes.  Symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, and sore throat.  In addition, fatigue, lack of appetite, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have been reported. 

The Swine Flu H1N1 outbreak continues to be closely monitored by the Health Department with support from numerous local partners including the medical community, school districts, emergency responders, and local government.

For the most up-to-date information for Thurston County, the Health Department is encouraging calls to the Swine Flu H1N1 Public Information Line 360-709-3080 and visits to the Swine Flu H1N1 Webpage www.co.thurston.wa.us/health

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3