Health & Science

State testing 5 possible Mid-Columbia flu cases

Five samples of possible swine flu in Benton and Franklin counties have been sent to a state lab for testing.

But the state lab is so overwhelmed with samples, it’s unclear when local officials will learn the results.

So far no probable cases of the H1N1 flu have been confirmed in the area, county health officials reported Moday, May 4.

“Our counties’ portion of the Strategic National Stockpile is being stored with the State Department of Health. Should we need it, it will be delivered within a day,” said a health department news release.

The stockpile includes both medicine and personal protective gear.

Guidelines for giving the antiviral medication to sick patients were developed as part of the pandemic flu planning that has been going on for several years, said the release.

At this time, antiviral drugs are intended for hospitalized patients or those seriously ill with swine flu.

The protective equipment is for first responders like police and others caring for people who are sick.

Guidelines for those who are sick include:

— Individuals with flu-like illness (fever and cough or sore throat) should stay home for at least 7 days even if their symptoms resolve sooner. Those who are still sick at 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after they have completely recovered.

— If a child or adult is ill with other symptoms, they should stay home at least one day to watch how the illness develops and until completely well for 24 hours. A few cases of H1N1 flu begin as a gastro-intestinal illness.

— People who are sick should stay home and not go into the community unless they need medical care. Sick students should not attend alternative child care.

To stay healthy the health department recommends:

— Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

— Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

— To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

— Avoid close contact with sick people.

— Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

For more information and updates:

Get the health department's updates at

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