Doctors in Arkansas are keeping a watchful eye for swine flu in humans following an outbreak of the disease in Mexico and parts of the United States. 

Doctors in Arkansas are keeping a watchful eye for swine flu in humans following an outbreak of the disease in Mexico and parts of the United States.  The strain worrying health officials appears to be a combination of swine, bird and human influenza. The Arkansas Department of Health issued the alert Sunday.
Currently, no cases have been identified in Arkansas. However, 40 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. So far, there are seven confirmed cases in California, two in Texas, eight in New York City, one in Ohio and two in Kansas. The strain is being blamed for sickening 1,000 and causing as many as 68 deaths in Mexico.
The Arkansas Department of Health has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is working with state and federal officials to monitor the situation.
“We are telling doctors that if they see patients with febrile influenza-like illness, they should collect a specimen for testing,” said Dr. William Mason, branch chief, Preparedness and Response. “We want Arkansans to know at this time, we don’t have any confirmed swine flu in our state. However, we are concerned about what is happening in our neighboring state of Texas and elsewhere across the country.”
Mason stressed that so far the disease occurring in the U.S. is not severe. All persons that have contracted the disease have survived.
“There is the possibility that we will see severe illness in the future, and we want Arkansans to be prepared,” added Mason.
Mason said that people with any respiratory illness should stay home to avoid spreading the infection. He also said avoid close contact with those who are coughing and otherwise appear ill, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wash hands frequently.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal influenza and include: fever above 100 degrees, coughing, sore throat, chills, headache and body aches, fatigue, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.
The Health Department’s press release said to seek emergency medical care for children if they have fast breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, being so irritable that they do not want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash.
Emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention in adults include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, or swift or persistent vomiting.
Anyone who is pregnant, or have health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema should check with their health care provider for any special care they might need if they are being cared for at home.
The Department of Health recommends a 7-day home stay – from the start of the illness until the fever is gone. As with all types of flu strains get plenty of rest, drink clear fluids, cover coughs and sneezes, clean hands with soap and water, especially after using tissues and after coughing and sneezing into hands.
Swine flu is not transmitted by
 (See Swine Flu on Page 2)
food and people cannot get the disease from eating pork. The infection appears to spread from person to person. Drugs called antivirals can reduce the severity of the disease if taken within 48 hours after symptoms begin.
For more information, go to www.healthyarkansas.com or www.cdc.gov. The health Department will provide updates as they become necessary.