Swine flu, a virus contracted from pigs that’s currently ravaging central and southern Mexico, is spreading globally, including as close to Cal Poly as San Diego County. There have also been confirmed cases in Imperial County, and Sacramento County.
Cal Poly students who visited Mexico over spring break and are currently healthy most likely don’t need to worry about contracting the virus since there is an eight-day total incubation period for the virus, said Health Center Director Marty Bragg.
“Cal Poly students who haven’t reported it yet probably won’t get it,” he said.
According to a San Luis Obispo Country Health Agency press release, there were no cases of swine flu in the county as of Monday afternoon.
In a Cal Poly Academic Affairs e-mail released yesterday regarding swine flu symptoms, the college advised students on ways to avoid the spread of the flu. They also said that although none of Cal Poly’s swine stock is known to be infected, they are keeping in close contact with the San Luis Obispo County health department to monitor the outbreak situation.
Cal Poly Health Center Dr. David Harris said that he and his colleagues are taking precautions.
“If someone does come to the health center with a fever, nasal congestion, sore throat, or a cough, we’re going to ask them to put a mask on,” he said. “We don’t want to alarm people, we just want to be careful. We want to try and contain any upper respiratory sickness we see.”
Dr. Harris added that unlike Mexico, where swine flu has turned into a pandemic, U.S. citizens have access to better health care and thus the flu is less likely to turn into an epidemic
He also suggests staying healthy and maintaining standard hygienic habits. Washing hands often is one of the main ways to keep from contracting any illness including swine flu. Bragg also recommends keeping one’s hands away from one’s eyes, nose and mouth, and sneezing or coughing into an elbow rather than into hands. However, both Bragg and Harris said there was no need for Cal Poly students to panic.
The Center for Disease Control raised the count from seven to 11 confirmed cases of swine flu in California on Monday. Each case was reported to be self-contained and two of the infected people had underlying conditions. All individuals have recovered since contracting the virus. As of 1 p.m. Monday, there were 33 other laboratory confirmed cases in the United States: one in Ohio, two in Kansas, two in Texas, and 28 in New York City, according to the CDC’s Web site.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has declared the situation a public health emergency. She insists that people keep in mind that although it is being called an “emergency,” the government is simply asking people be cautious. It does not mean that it has reached epidemic or pandemic status.
Symptoms of swine flu are very similar to that of the common seasonal flu including coughing, nasal congestion, body aches and joint pain, lethargy and most importantly, fever.
“If people are sick and have a fever they should stay home,” Harris said.
Mikaela Akuna contributed to this report