OSWEGO, NY – Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Oswego County Public Health Director, asked the county Health Committee this week to allow him to use funds from a Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant to fight the flu.
“What we are looking for here is to recognize that we anticipate spending the funding in 2009. As you know, it’s a very dynamic situation with pandemic flu, Swine Flu; and we don’t know when or exactly how much Swine Flu vaccine we’ll be getting. When it does come, we’ll have to move very quickly in order to get it out to the selected population,” Dr. Norfleet said.
When they do that, they’ll need additional staff, he explained.
He is asking the county to provide him with the overtime, part-time (temporary) staff and any additional supplies needed to be able to provide adequate clinics.
The grant, more than $244,700, would cover those expenses.
It could also be used for several wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers, which would be located in county buildings, he added.
“That’s one of the things we are looking at, getting more hand sanitizers and putting them out in county buildings,” he told the committee.
The county is working with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor this outbreak, Dr. Norfleet said.
The Oswego County Health Department held its first seasonal flu clinic Sept. 21. The second was held Wednesday in Pulaski and Oswego.
Both flu and pneumonia vaccines were available.
“The flu shot provides protection against the seasonal flu only,” Dr. Norfleet explained. “Additional clinics will be scheduled for Swine Flu (H1N1) vaccination when the vaccine becomes available.”
Right now, everyone is concerned with the H1N1 virus. However, Dr. Norfleet pointed out that later on, other viruses will be coming through.
“That’s why it is important for people to take care of themselves,” he said. “People should get the flu vaccine.”
The Swine Flu vaccine will be available to certain sections of the population first, Dr. Norfleet said. “But, eventually, there should be enough for almost everybody to get it,” he added.
To help prevent the spread of flu, the Oswego County Health Department advises people to:
Wash your hands often
Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you sneeze and cough
Stay away from crowds when you are sick and when there is flu in the community
Keep sick children home from school
Adults should not go to work when they are sick
People should not visit hospitals and nursing homes if they have flu and cold symptoms
Legislator Barb Brown said people should carry hand sanitizer with them and use it.
“When you go out to eat, you handle the door going into the restaurant, you’re handling menus that other people have handled, you go through the food line touching utensils that everybody else has handled,” she cautioned. “You better wash your hands before you eat anything. Take care of yourself.”
County Administrator Phil Church asked Dr. Norfleet if he was getting reports from SUNY Oswego where they have had several students ill with Swine Flu systems.
The County Health Department is receiving reports from all the schools, the doctor noted.
Church said that his concern was people with flu symptoms interacting with the rest of the community.
“I think we have to understand, influenza is here,” Dr. Norfleet said. “I think the key thing is what we’ve been saying all along, use tissues to cough/sneeze into, sanitize (wash) your hands frequently, stay out of school and work when you’re sick. That’s the best thing.”
Swine Flu is a respiratory disease of pigs that is caused by type A influenza viruses.
While people do not usually contract the disease, human infections can and do happen, Dr. Norfleet explained.
The virus is primarily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms of the disease include: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
Some have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.
These signs may appear within two to seven days of exposure to the virus.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
“One of my constituents died from triple E. There is a horse in the same area that the vet is checking every other day,” Legislator Brown told the doctor. “Did the frost end this?”
“If we get a good hard frost, that would knockout the mosquito population,” Dr. Norfleet replied. “With the cooler weather we’re having now, the population is dropping off.”
Spraying likely won’t be done again this season, he added. To spray it needs to be at least a certain temperature, “and I don’t think we are going to reach those temperatures again,” he said.
For more information, call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For more information about the swine influenza outbreak, call the New York State Health Department hotline at 1-800-808-1987, or visit New York State Department of Health: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/swine_flu/