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Monitoring Swine Flu In Indiana

Last updated on Monday, April 27, 2009

(UNDATED) - The Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security are both keeping an eye on events as they relate to the swine flu outbreak that, though focused primarily in Mexico City, Mexico, has been found in 5 states in the US.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe says the swine flu is what they call a "novel human virus," which means there is no vaccine, however, due to the symptoms they are finding, she is encouraging seniors and other individuals with chronic ailments to discuss the pneumonia vaccine with their doctors.

There are no confirmed cases of swine influenza in Indiana.

However, two possible cases have been sent to laboratories for testing and results are expected back early this week. Under the direction of Gov. Mitch Daniels, state and local agencies have been mobilized to monitor and respond to the outbreak.

Dr. Monroe is asking Hoosiers to remain calm, but vigilant for symptoms of swine influenza, which are similar to the seasonal flu. Indiana has increased surveillance for the virus among health care providers.

Indiana has 651,000 doses of antiviral medicine that is immediately available and more that is being delivered to states from the federal strategic stockpile. Washing hands, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue during coughing and sneezing, and avoiding close contact with sick people are essential to avoid the virus.

State health officials say they are working closely with those on the federal level to monitor the outbreak.

The US declared a public health emergency on Sunday to help deal with the new swine flu outbreak.

The declaration allows easier access to flu testing and medication for state governments. Purdue University virologist Dr. David Sanders explains, genetically, the swine flu virus is a combination of swine, avian and human viruses with the pig acting as a mixing bowl.

The resulting virus can be one for which human beings have no pre-existing immunity.

Creation of a vaccine against it begins by taking a sample of the virus and growing it in a chicken egg. He says the whole process of producing a vaccine takes several weeks.

Dr. Sanders says air travel has made it possible for the swine flu virus to spread globally in a matter of hours, but he says we're much better prepared than we were in 1976 when the last nationwide swine flu threat hit the US.

Network Indiana contributed to this story.

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