Tuesday, April 28th at 3:38 p.m.
While there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in the Santa Clarita Valley, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Dr. Jonathan Fielding has confirmed that health officials are investigating four potential cases of swine flu with local residents.
Additional information was not immediately available, and the cases are only being investigated at this time. If the local cases are proved to be swine flu, then they could be the first reported in Los Angeles County.
Coroner’s officials had opened investigations into the deaths of two men in the southern part of the county this morning. Swine Flu was ruled out in one death, although the other death is still under investigation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five people in the United States are hospitalized with confirmed cases of swine flu, including three in California.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a State of Emergency that will support and facilitate our state health departments’ response to this outbreak.
While there is no need for alarm, it is the Governor’s top priority to limit the swine flu’s spread as quickly and effectively as possible and this action represents one more step being taken to strengthen California’s response capabilities.
This proclamation cuts government red tape by:
- Ordering all state agencies and departments to utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities to assist the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the State Emergency Plan as coordinated by the California Emergency Management Agency
- Ordering DPH and the Emergency Medical Services Authority to enter into any and all necessary contracts for providing services, materials, personnel and equipment to supplement extraordinary preventive measures being taken across the state
- Suspending non-competitive bid contracts for services, material, personnel and equipment needed to respond to this outbreak
- Waiving select certification requirements for public health laboratories to help in the state’s expansion of our testing capabilities
Today’s proclamation follows the Governor’s rigorous response from the moment the first case of swine flu was confirmed in California, which has included deploying public health experts across the state, increasing surveillance of patients with flu-like illness and activating the joint emergency operations center and health alert network.
In addition, state health officials are working closely with the federal government and our local health partners to provide guidance on measures that can be helpful in reducing the virus’ spread and associated impact on health.
Also today, California became the first state in the nation to do its own confirmatory testing for this strain of swine flu without having to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control, which will greatly speed up detection efforts in California.
- The Governor continues to urge all Californians to be diligent in preventing the further spread of the flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with flu, it is recommended that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was briefed by Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Public Health, on the swine flu situation. He issued the following statement:
“A new variation of the influenza virus known as swine flu has been detected in parts of California and several other states and countries. We have not found any confirmed cases of this new strain in Los Angeles County, but we do expect that this type of flu will spread. In the U.S., the good news so far is that those with this virus have had only mild or moderate symptoms. However, in Mexico preliminary data suggests this may cause a more severe pattern of infection.
We do not suggest any changes in what you would normally do to avoid either getting sick yourself or passing illness to others: if you are sick, stay home; if your child is sick, do not send him or her to school; cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the restroom; and do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is on alert, and we have activated surveillance to identify cases of this strain that may surface in LA County. We are also working with the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on control measures.”