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Houston Records First Swine Flu Death in U.S.

Local health officials say they expect more confirmed cases of swine flu in the next few days after a young boy from Mexico became the first confirmed death related to the virus here in Houston. As Pat Hernandez reports, more samples from suspected cases of swine flu are being sent to the centers for disease control for testing.


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As officials here in Houston look for new cases of Swine Flu, Governor Rick Perry says the state has set in motion what it calls its pandemic flu plan, just in case.

“Our citizens need to know two things. One, there’s no need to panic. The incidences of swine flu have been limited in number with symptoms that are generally mild. Number two, you can be confident that our state’s level of preparedness is at the appropriate height.”

As a precaution, Perry has issued a disaster proclamation for the entire state as a way of opening up more more resources for Texas. As part of the flu plan, the state mow has more than 1.6-million doses of anti-viral medication on hand to help treat and prevent suspected of swine flu. Kathy Barton is with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

“Typically, we do not think of influenza as being an emergency room disease, a hospital disease, or even going to the doctor disease but, if the fever is very high and you cannot bring it under control, that’s the time to consult with a physician or, if you cannot control any of the other symptoms and they seem to become too oppressive, then you need to consult with with medical case.”

On Monday, a young boy from Mexico City died from the swine flu here in Houston. He’d been visiting relatives in Brownsville when he became sick and was transported to Texas Children’s Hospital. There are more than a dozen other confirmed cases in Texas and a suspected case involving a pregnant woman. Dr. David Persse is director of Houston’s emergency medical services. He says the swine flu really isn’t much different from regular flu.

“Let’s remember that in the United States, every year between 36 and 40-thousand Americans die with the seasonal flu — what we consider a flu that we’re oddly enough, comfortable with. When you look at the folks that die from that, they tend to be those that are high risk patients: Those would be the elderly, the very young, especially like the young who have complicated medical problems. This was a very young child and so, this was particular flu we’re talking about at least so far, seems to be following the same pattern as  the seasonal flu.”

image of Dr. David Lakey is the commissioner of State Health Services

Dr. David Lakey is the commissioner of State Health Services in Austin. He says Texas has taken an aggressive approach to fighting swine flu.

“We know from history that communities that have been aggressive have decreased the spread of new flu viruses and seem to handle these events better than those that did not. Therefore, we’ve taken what we believe are prudent responses to this event. We’ve increased our surveillance. We’ve investigated these diseases and contacts. We’ve asked individuals to stay home. This is a very important message: If you’re sick, now is not the time to come to work or time to go to school.”

The University Interscholastic League (UIL) has also canceled all high school sporting and academic competitions until at least May 11th.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

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