Agencies Prepare for Potential Outbreak

As of Monday, no cases of the swine flu had been reported in Mississippi or Alabama. However, with dozens of deaths being blamed on the virus in Mexico, where it is thought to have originated, locals are taking precaution.

"I've ordered several thousand dollars worth of air filters that are top notch that will help with this type of thing," said Ginger Stevens of Wesley House, which runs a clinic for low-income residents.

"We don't have any reason to have any extra concerns at this point," said Dr. Kim Benton of Meridian Public Schools. "However, we just always try to stay on our game and practice disease prevention activities with our students."

This includes the encouragement of frequent hand-washing and other helpful hygiene tips on the official Web site for Meridian Public Schools.

Officials at Quitman Drugs say they have had an increase in the number of people wanting to buy what's being used to treat the virus, Tamiflu.

"It's nothing to worry about, just keep our ear to the ground and if we have any cases, you'll hear it from the news media," said pharmacist Al Vowell of
Quitman Drugs. "And if you start having symptoms, go to your physician."

As concerns continue to mount about the virus, officials with the Mississippi State Extension Service say there really is not a need to worry about whether you can contract the swine flu from eating pork.

"As a matter of fact, this may not be a swine disease at all. It is an influenza. Maybe swine had it in years back but from what we're understanding today is that no swine in Mexico that have been tested have shown this virus," said Roy Higdon. area livestock agent. "Sneezing on people, not washing your hands, all of the things that doctors warn you about during the flu season. Those are the things you need to concentrate on. Pork is not the problem."

Although no cases of the virus have turned up so far in the twin states, in case there is an outbreak, the Mississippi Department of Health has requested 75,000 additional dosages of Tamiflu.

As for symptoms of the swine flu, they are much like those associated with a regular case of the flu. This includes: a fever, cough, sore throat and possible vomiting and diarrhea.

At this point and time officials say the best way to ward off the virus is by practicing healthy hygiene.


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