Officials watch spread of swine flu; no cases reported in state

Mississippi health officials are watching and waiting as swine flu advances across the country and the world.
The State Health Department is testing dozens of specimens taken from people sick with flu-like illness around the state, State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier said Wednesday. So far, none have been classified suspicious and sent on to the CDC for further evaluation.
As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 100 cases of swine flu in 11 states had been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
“That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Currier said. “There’s likely many more cases out there.”
The swine flu virus, which is a new strain to which no humans have immunity, is spreading person to person. In lab tests, the new strain of flu seems to be sensitive to antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, Currier said.
Mississippi currently has a stockpile of 300,000 courses of antiviral medicine and should receive another 75,000 or more from the national stockpile later this week, Currier said.
That’s enough medication to cover a little more than 10 percent of Mississippi’s population. And the state stockpile doesn’t reflect what’s available through commercial pharmacies, and those drug manufacturers are increasing production.
The medicine, which can limit the duration and severity of the flu, is most helpful in people who are vulnerable to complications, such as young children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djorunal.com.

Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal