Swine flu ‘likely’ in Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

Swine flu ‘likely’ in Colorado

No confirmed cases, but local health officials remain on alert

Zach Fridell

— Local health officials continue to receive multiple daily updates from state and national health agencies as they prepare for what one official said was the likelihood of the virus eventually turning up in Colorado. No swine flu cases have been confirmed in the state.

“From everything we’re hearing, they’re saying it’s likely,” said Suzi Mariano, spokeswoman for Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. “With all the travel going on between states, they’re saying it’s likely.”

Mariano, along with other representatives from the VNA, have spent the past few days in a series of conference calls with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies across the country going over logistics should the flu spread to Colorado.

A 23-month-old boy from Mexico who was visiting Texas became the first U.S. death attributed to the pandemic. The World Health Organization raised the alert level from four to five. Six is the highest level of alert, and a rating of five indicates that “the virus is becoming increasingly better adapted to humans but may not yet be fully transmissible.”

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said his organization has kept in close contact with the VNA. Struble’s office has sent out news releases and information to local schools to quell fears and alert residents to potential danger.

“We did a lot of planning when the pandemic flu went around,” Mariano said. The county and state have plans in place and will be ready to handle a swine flu outbreak in the county, she said.

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The emergency management office can request access to national stockpiles of medicine if necessary, but Struble said there is no reason to do so at this time.

Across the country, 91 people were confirmed sick with swine flu as of noon Wednesday, with more suspected cases being tested every day.

If there is a case of swine flu detected in Routt County, the positive test result would first be returned to the doctor who requested it. That doctor would then be responsible for reporting the result to the VNA, which serves as the public health agency for the county. The VNA would then report the data to the CDC and inform the public.

Schools operate as usual

Steamboat Springs school officials say they haven’t seen any increases in student absences related to swine flu fears. More than 100 Steamboat students and family members traveled to Mexico during last week’s spring break.

Steamboat Springs High School Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky said the school is proceeding as usual, with a special news release e-mailed to parents and posted on the district Web site. That release also is available on Steamboatpilot.com.

“I’m not seeing anything massive,” he said.

Almost all of the spring break travelers who participated in an organized senior trip passed through Cancun International Airport. A group of New York students who spent a week in Cancun returned to their school carrying the swine flu, and about two dozen have been reported ill.

– To contact Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com