Bear River Health Department reacts to swine flu being declared pandemic

On Wednesday the World Health Organization announced that it was elevating its alert level for the H1N1 swine influenza from 5 to 6, officially making it the first pandemic seen in the world in several decades.With six cases of swine flu present in Cache County, Bear River Health Department officials said Wednesday they were taking the WHO’s announcement in stride.”this change is part of the usual process of a disease investigation,” said Lloyd Berentzen, executive director of the health department. “We know the disease is prevalent in our state and in our communities. It is important to track the severity of the disease.”Berentzen’s statement comes at a time when about 95 percent of influenza activity in the state is being attributed to the H1N1 virus. Because of that, state health officials are encouraging doctors to assume that any patient who tests positive for influenza A has swine flu, and appropriate treatment should begin without further laboratory confirmation.”It is important to remember that reported numbers of H1N1 will be hospitalized cases only and will not accurately reflect the prevalence of Novel H1N1 in our community,” Berentzen said.Pregnant women, children under 5, and those people with a pre-existing chronic medical illness are at high risk and should contact their health care provider if they experience flu-like illness. Treatment is most effective within 48 hours of the onset of illness, health officials say.Ed Redd, deputy director of the Bear River Health Department, said the H1N1 strain has been mild, so far, but encouraged vigilance among the public.”Fortunately this has been relatively mild disease, however every person in our community has a role to play in preventing the spread,” Redd said. “Frequent hand washing, covering coughs, and staying home when you are sick are more important than we sometimes realize.”For more information on H1N1, visit the

<a href=”http://www.brhd.org”>Bear River Health Department’s Web site.</a>

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