Island County is swine flu free to date

Rest easy: Swine flu has not touched Island County, according to the Washington state Department of Health.

Although Whidbey Island has no confirmed cases, Island County Public Health Officer Roger Case suspects this county may eventually experience a number of swine flu victims, although none have been reported in Washington to date.

"It wouldn't surprise me if eight to 10 people come down with it because we have a lot of snowbirds," he said, adding that this is the time of the year for snowbirds to migrate back from the south to their summer homes on Whidbey Island.

Local clinics are testing all patients that show flu-like symptoms and have traveled to Mexico within the last seven days, he said. Most of the calls to Island County Public Health within the last few days have been from area clinics to make sure their nurses and staff are following the correct testing procedures, Case said.

As of Tuesday morning, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States: 45 in New York, 10 in California, two in Kansas, six in Texas and one in Ohio.

Swine flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and possibly diarrhea and vomiting. Similar to the seasonal flu, swine flu may worsen underlying chronic medical conditions.

The severity of symptoms can vary widely, according to the CDC.

"These events are of high concern," states a the World Health Organization news release. "The swine influenza A/H1N1 viruses characterized in this outbreak have not been previously detected in pigs or humans. The viruses so far characterized have been sensitive to oseltamivir, but resistant to both amantadine and rimantadine."

This new strain of swine flu is spread by contact with infected pigs and humans, often through coughing and sneezing. The virus cannot be spread by eating pork. Infected people are considered contagious as long as they experience flu symptoms.

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