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Swine flu in 11 states reporting 109 cases, but none in Mississippi

Eleven states and 109 cases later and Mississippi is still appears to not be affected by the swine flu.

South Carolina joined the list of states that have confirmed cases of the new strain of influenza and the total number of confirmed cases is now reported to be at 109, said Mary Currier of the Mississippi State Department of Health.

States previously reporting cases of the new flu strain include Texas, Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York and Ohio.

Currier said while there are still no confirmed cases of the strain in Mississippi, testing is still being conducted on submitted samples. So far the Health Department has only found cases of the seasonal flu. If the Health Department finds a sample that can not be identified as a seasonal flu, that sample will be sent to the Center for Disease Control, who will test to see if it is the N1H1, or swine flu, virus.

Proper hand washing and cough etiquette is still recommended to avoid spreading any strains of the flu to other people. If a child does show signs of the flu, parents are requested to keep the child home. Even when children are not in school, it is not a good idea to go out into public places. If medical treatment is needed, Currier recommends calling the doctor prior to going to the office. This will avoid contaminating any people in the doctor’s waiting room.

School closures in Mississippi are not being considered at this time. Currier said the decision to close schools as of Thursday will be up to the local authorities.

Picayune School Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the districts in the area are following the lead of the Mississippi Department of Education and the MSDH.

Dennis Penton, superintendent of the Pearl River County School District , said the district is following the state’s guidelines to prepare the schools to be virus free. That includes disinfecting things the children would come into contact with, such as door knobs, cafeteria tables and bathrooms. Harrell said the Picayune School district is taking similar disinfecting precautions.

“Basically, things are good, but we’re taking steps,” Penton said.

So far ,there are few students out sick from the Pearl River County School District but none have a severe illness.

Both Penton and Harrell said a conference will be held with the MDE and MSDH on Friday to discuss the situation. Any plans for possible school closures will be taken from information given by the Health Department and the Department of Education, Harrell said.

Currier said this situation is just like a routine flu season, just at the wrong time of year. She said this flu outbreak should be handed just like any routine flu season, and while there is concern, she is certain great care can get the population through it.

Currier said every so many years a strain of the flu will change slightly or jump, which is called a shift, creating a situation such as this. In the meantime, Currier advises the pubic to be wary of rumors. If there is a case of swine flu in Mississippi. If a confirmed case occurs, then the Health Department or the governor will inform the public immediately.