San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Ovitt has, as of today, proclaimed a local emergency due to the confirmation of a swine flu case in San Bernardino County. Within the United States, there are (as of this morning) 109 confirmed cases of the swine flu, and one human death resulting from the respiratory disease associated with pigs. Within San Bernardino County, one case has been confirmed; the affected individual is a U.S. Marine stationed at the Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms. There is also a possible case of swine flu in a young child and, as a result, Cole Elementary School in Highland is closed today. Given these instances, the County’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated, at Level One of three. With the emergency proclamation in place, the County is provided the authority necessary to fully respond to an outbreak of swine flu, and has increased access to statewide resources. In a statement from Chairman Ovitt, he says, “The County’s Public Health Department has been on top of this outbreak since day one, and will continue to work tirelessly to monitor the health of our citizens, provide vital and timely information, and prevent the spread of infection. The public must also do its part by following the guidelines developed by the world, national, and local health organizations.” As there is no vaccine for swine flu, the County’s Public Health Officer and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend these precautions: cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of tissue; wash hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand cleaner, often; avoid close contact with sick people and, if sick, stay home from work or school; and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as this is how germs are spread. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the common seasonal flu; these symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some of those infected have also reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. According to the County’s Public Health Department, those with a flu virus should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to seven days following onset of the illness. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods of time. It is important for parents with children in school to be prepared, and to consider alternate plans for childcare if their school is closed. There are no further school dismissals under discussion, however, the situation may change if more cases of swine flu are identified.
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