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No swine flu in Bulloch
First Ga. case diagnosed; local officials discuss action plans
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     In spite of the first confirmed case of swine flu appearing in Georgia Thursday, there is no need to panic, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
      Nonetheless, Wynn met Thursday morning with local authorities to discuss plans of action in case the virus does affect those in Bulloch or surrounding counties. Just hours after the meeting concluded, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced a Kentucky woman visiting LaGrange was diagnosed with swine flu.
      Dr. Elizabeth Ford, head of Georgia's Division of Public Health, said Thursday during a news conference that the woman returned from Cancun, Mexico April 21.
      The woman was admitted to West Georgia Medical System in LaGrange Sunday with ‘‘flu-like symptoms,'' said medical system president and CEO Jerry Fulks.
      East Georgia Regional Medical Center CEO Bob Bigley attended Thursday's meeting at the Bulloch County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and said people should call their family physicians if they feel they are becoming ill.
      But, if someone is ill enough to visit the hospital's emergency room and has flu-like symptoms, they need to inform hospital staff immediately upon arrival so precautionary measures can be taken, he said.
      Those who display flu-like symptoms will be given a mask to wear during their hospital visit, he said.
Wynn called the meeting to make sure everyone is prepared in case of an outbreak of swine flu in the area.
      "There is cause for concern, but the public does not need to panic," he said.
      Cindi Hart, nurse manager with the Bulloch County Health Department, provided school officials, health care providers, law enforcement and public safety leaders with a packet of information about swine flu, including the fact that it cannot be contracted through eating pork.
      She recommended frequent hand-washing and covering sneezes and coughs.
      Georgia Southern University spokesman Christian Flathman told the group that the university is "closely monitoring the situation" and is keeping on constant contact with public health officials.
Bulloch County EMS Director Lee Eckles also spoke during the meeting, reminding the public that flu-like symptoms are not cause for a 911 call.
      "I don't want to minimize the swine flu but ... don't call 911 for flu symptoms," he said, adding that 911 is reserved for emergencies and tying up operators and ambulances for non-emergency calls could endanger lives. "If you are elderly, very young or impaired you may need to dial 911" if your illness is debilitating, he said.
      Bigley asked citizens to refrain from visiting others in the hospital if they feel ill, and suggested wearing a mask if you begin to feel sick in order to protect others.
      He also said the hospital is adequately staffed and stocked in case cases of swine flu appear in the area.
      "We have checked with suppliers to ensure we have adequate supplies in case of a pandemic," he said. "But this is pretty much business as usual for us. The hospital is well equipped and the staff is trained ... to use universal precautions ( to prevent spread of illness.)"

What is swine flu?
      According to information Hart shared Thursday, there were about 150 cases of swine flu reported worldwide Thursday morning.   However, that number rose slightly, with the CDC reporting at least 110 cases and one death in the United States, according to Internet web site flu.
      Only one case in each of the following states were reported: Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada,and Ohio. Two cases each were reported in Kansas and Massachusetts.
      Ten cases were reported Thursday in South Carolina; 14 in California; 26 in Texas and 50 in New York, according to the web site.
      The CDC site included information regarding the way the virus is transmitted.
      "Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products." according to the site.
      "Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people," according to the web site. Further suggestions included covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing; tossing used tissue in the trash, and washing hands thoroughly preferably with an alcohol-based cleaner.
      "Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs," according to the web site.
      "Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose."
      The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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