April 30, 2009
General Welfare, Health and Human Services Committee
briefed on Novel “Swine” Flu
(NASHVILLE, TN), April 30, 2009 — Tennessee Health Commissioner Susan Cooper briefed the Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday about the worldwide Novel “swine” flu pandemic. The action came just before the state announced reports of the first probable cases in Williamson and Shelby Counties in Tennessee.
“Our state’s Health Department is certainly on top of this situation,” said Senator Johnson. “Commissioner Cooper and her staff are to be commended for the job they are doing to keep our citizens safe.”
On April 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) declared a public health emergency to manage the cases of swine flu emanating from an outbreak in Mexico. Cooper told lawmakers that there is currently no vaccine for the Novel Flu due to the fact that this new virus has not been seen anywhere in the world before this outbreak.
The Department of Health is working closely with federal, state and local governments to prepare to respond to the outbreak. She said the Department of Health has stepped up its level of activity, referred to as conducting surveillance. The Department has also requested Tennessee’s portion of antiviral drugs and supplies from the strategic national stockpile, which is being distributed with a priority for states with confirmed cases and along U.S. borders.
Cooper said that although this situation is naturally a source of concern, it should not be cause for panic. As public health officials utilize the comprehensive planning and training that’s been done to prepare for public health threats of this nature, there are steps citizens can take to protect their health and prevent the spread of the virus. These include covering your nose and mouth while sneezing, thoroughly washing hands throughout the day, and staying at home if you are sick.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
“One of these cases has been identified as a local student,” said Senator Johnson. “We are relieved that the child is at home being properly treated and is doing well. The school has been closed by the Department of Health, pursuant to Centers for Disease Control policy, for seven days to minimize the possibility of spreading to other students.”
“I have confidence that our citizens will take the needed precautions needed as we go through this pandemic,” he concluded.
NOVEL FLU INFORMATION TO ASSIST
Provided by Tennessee Department of
• Anyone seeking the latest information about the flu outbreak can visit the Tennessee Department of Health Web site at http://health.state.tn.us/swineflu.htm or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. These Web sites are updated daily.
Here are responses to specific calls and questions you may receive:
• I think I might have the swine flu.
If you are ill and believe you may have the flu, stay home. If you have questions, call your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, call your local county health department for information.
• Do I need to get medicine to have on hand in case I get sick with this flu virus?
No. If you become ill with flu-like symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
• When can I get a vaccine against this flu virus?
1. There is currently no vaccine against this flu virus. The best way to protect yourself and your family from this virus is to follow common sense good hygiene
practices that help protect you from other illnesses: wash your hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.
2. Persons who are sick with flu-like symptoms should stay home from school and/or work until they’re well.
• I have travel plans – should I cancel them?
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that American travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. No other specific
travel recommendations have been made at this time related to the flu outbreak. Changes to this recommendation will be posted on the CDC’s Web site at
• Do I need to close my business due to this flu outbreak?
No. However, if an employee is sick with fever and flu-like symptoms he or she should stay home.
• I am planning an event that will attract a lot of people. Should I cancel it due to this flu outbreak?
No. The Department of Health will give guidance should this recommendation change.
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