For more information about H1N1, visit the World Health Organization's update page
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's H1N1 update page, with regular briefings: www.cdc.gov/h1n1f...>
For more information about how local schools are preparing, read coverage from Thursday here
Four Colorado Mountain College students at the Alpine Campus are being treated for flu-like symptoms. Read the story here
8 things you need to know about swine flu
1. No cause for panic.
So far, swine flu isn't much more threatening than regular seasonal flu. Still, more people are susceptible to swine flu and U.S. health officials are worried because it hung in so firmly here during the summer - a time of year the flu usually goes away.
2. Virus tougher on some.
Swine flu is more of a threat to certain groups - children younger than 2, pregnant women, people with health problems such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Teens and young adults are also more vulnerable to swine flu.
3. Get the kids vaccinated.
These groups should be first in line for swine flu shots: people 6 months to 24 years old, pregnant women, health care workers.
4. Vaccines are being tested.
Health officials presume the swine flu vaccine is safe and effective, but they're testing it to make sure.
5. Get your shots early.
Millions of swine flu shots should be available by October. If you are in one of the priority groups, try to get your shot as early as possible. Check with your doctor or local or state health department about where to do this.
6. Immunity takes awhile.
Even those first in line for shots won't have immunity until around Thanksgiving. That's because it's likely to take two shots, given three weeks apart, to provide protection. And it takes a week or two after the last shot for the vaccine to take full effect.
7. Help! Surrounded by swine flu.
If an outbreak of swine flu hits your area before you're vaccinated, be extra cautious. Stay away from public gathering places like malls, sports events and churches. Keep washing those hands and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
8. What if you get sick?
If you have other health problems or are pregnant and develop flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. You may be prescribed Tamiflu or Relenza. These drugs can reduce the severity of swine flu if taken right after symptoms start. Most people, though, should just stay home and rest.
- The Associated Press
Steamboat Springs Emergency and health officials in Routt County are preparing for the coming flu season but face several uncertainties, including the specter of the H1N1 virus, the severity of a potential outbreak and the availability of vaccines.
With contingencies in place for a variety of outcomes, local officials are awaiting news from the federal government.
Spokeswoman Suzi Mariano, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said the flu season tends to start when students go back to school but that so far H1N1 vaccines are not available.
"We don't know the amount of vaccine we're going to receive or when we're going to receive it," she said. The federal government will distribute the vaccine to states, which will in turn distribute to local health agencies. Mariano said the VNA has several plans ready for different scenarios.
The VNA has worked with Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble to develop a list of the critical county employees who would first receive the vaccine - emergency responders, law enforcement officers, elected officials, road and bridge crews and others. That list includes about 275 people, including the employees, their spouses and children, Struble said. After those critical employees are vaccinated, the vaccines will be offered to all county employees and the public.
At a glance
Since it first emerged in April, the global swine flu epidemic has sickened more than 1 million Americans and killed about 500. It's also spread around the world, infecting tens of thousands and killing nearly 2,000.
This summer, the virus has been surprisingly tenacious in the U.S., refusing to fade away as flu viruses usually do. And health officials predict a surge of cases this fall, perhaps very soon as schools reopen.
A White House report from an expert panel suggests that from 30 percent to half the population could catch swine flu during the course of this pandemic and that from 30,000 to 90,000 could die.
- The Associated Press
"At the county level we've been talking this summer and encouraging department heads to consider : an absenteeism level of 30 to 40 percent," Struble said.
The county already has many plans in place because of the bird flu scare in 2005-06. The VNA has been practicing mass vaccination during seasonal flu shot clinics in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties by vaccinating large numbers of people at single clinics and using reserve nurses.
The amount of vaccine available globally is a constantly changing number, Mariano said, making it difficult to estimate how much will come to Routt County.
She said she expects to see at least some H1N1 vaccine available by October. Last week, when Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs announced four students were being treated for the flu - from an unknown strain, not necessarily H1N1 - Dean of Student Affairs Brian Hoza said a seasonal flu vaccine should be available for students Sept. 15.
Mariano said H1N1 vaccines will be made available first to pregnant women and very young children. Unlike other types of seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus appears to affect the young much more than the elderly.
Struble and Mariano said the high number of tourists and visitors to Routt County during peak flu season likely won't affect the rate of infection or outbreak any more than most cities.
"Granted, we have a lot of tourists flying in and out, and coming from all parts of the world, but I think that's the situation the world is in now. I don't think we're unique with that," Struble said.
Even so, with the large number of people passing through Yampa Valley Regional Airport - about 280,000 arrivals and departures per year - airport manager Dave Ruppel said the airport is taking extra precautions to keep visitors safe.
"There's more emphasis in particular in making sure (employees) are aware of the basic health and cleanliness procedures as far as washing their hands and being sure not to cough on people," Ruppel said. The regular cleaning regimen also will include more wipe-downs of door handles.
During the summer, the airport employs 15 people, not including staff from the airlines. In the winter, that number increases to 36. Ruppel said the airport will use more overtime and call in backup workers if there is a significant flu outbreak that keeps employees home.
"For some of the most critical jobs we have a pool of part-time employees that we can turn to," he said.