Governor Paterson Directs State Health Department to Monitor Possible Swine Flu Cases
DOH to Activate Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Laboratory, Disaster Preparedness and Health Systems Staff for Coordinated Efforts Across the State; Hotline Set Up for Residents With Questions or Concerns About Swine Flu
April 25, 2009
Governor David A. Paterson has directed the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to activate its infectious disease, epidemiology, laboratory, disaster preparedness and health systems staff to coordinate efforts across the State as eight cases of probable swine influenza (swine flu) were identified in New York City today. Samples from these cases have been sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. The CDC is currently the only laboratory that has the capability to confirm swine flu (H1N1). DOH is coordinating with the Nassau and Suffolk County health departments on investigations of additional possible cases on Long Island.
DOH is advising hospitals and other health care providers on techniques to maximize protection of all staff and patients, and to promptly ship appropriate specimens to the DOH's public health laboratory, the Wadsworth Center, which is preparing to receive an increased volume of respiratory specimens from suspected cases of swine flu. DOH has mobilized staff and is assessing its laboratory supplies necessary for flu testing as part of its surge capacity plan. Guidelines for testing, including safety precautions for personnel, will be circulated to all hospital and commercial laboratories who may receive specimens.
DOH will work with CDC on developing guidance appropriate for the public and providers of New York State. The nationwide situation is rapidly evolving and guidance is subject to change. In addition, DOH is monitoring respiratory illness throughout the State by tracking emergency department visits for respiratory illnesses, as well as monitoring the volume of Medicaid prescriptions for Tamiflu and Relenza, which are used for treatment of flu.
DOH is also setting up a toll-free number for New York State residents who have questions or concerns about swine flu. The hotline number is 1-800-808-1987. It will be available 24 hours a day, beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
DOH Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. said: "Just as with seasonal flu, New Yorkers should take appropriate, common-sense hygiene measures to prevent acquiring or transmitting this illness. To date, the cases of swine flu reported in the United States have been relatively mild. People with severe respiratory symptoms or symptoms that worsen should contact their health care provider for care and treatment. Otherwise we recommend that you stay home and treat your symptoms."
It is important to note that ordinary seasonal flu, which has symptoms similar to swine flu, is still active in New York State. Precautionary measures for both seasonal flu and swine flu include:
The public can obtain more information about swine flu and precautionary measures at DOH's web site at www.nyhealth.gov.
This article was provided by New York State Office of the Governor.