Whitesburg KY

Wash your hands!

Federal officials are now saying the swine flu virus has turned out to be milder than initially feared, but citizens across the U.S. are being warned not to become complacent just because previous warnings have been lessened.

Sheila Hogan, lead nurse of the Letcher County Health Department, encourages people to continue practicing good hygiene methods even though officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said the H1N1 flu isn’t as bad as once thought.

“The CDC says to not get complacent about it and to continue hand washing,” said Hogan. “It’s spread pretty easily from human to human and that is why people are being encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes and wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizers.”

Glenda Helton, infection control coordinator at Whitesburg ARH, said people should clean with alcohol-based wipes anything that is touched frequently such as telephones, computer keyboards and doorknobs.

Hogan said if an H1N1 flu outbreak occurred in Letcher County, the health department would be the lead agency and would give out antiviral medications at the old Whitesburg High School building.

Hogan said all agencies in the county have bio-hazard emergency plans that are kept up to date.

Paul Miles, director of Letcher County Emergency Management, said he would work with the health department to find extra resources and coordinate agencies if an outbreak did occur.

Hogan said the health department hasn’t received as many calls about the swine flu as she thought it would.

“I’ve been surprised,” said Hogan. “There haven’t been that many calls for us. I figured we would have been swamped.”

From the few calls Hogan received, she said people wanted to know about the symptoms of the swine flu and what to do if they had those symptoms.

Hogan said the main symptoms of swine flu are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pains or pressure, abdominal pains, persistent vomiting and diarrhea. Regular flu symptoms such as chill, fever, body aches, fatigue and cough can also occur.

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