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What East Bay residents need to know about the swine flu

Should we in the East Bay be worried about the swine flu coming here? Should we postpone our Mexico vacations?

World health officials are trying to keep a lid on panic over a deadly outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico, which so far has killed at least 100 people and sickened more than 1,000 more. At the same time they are working to keep the illness from turning into a global pandemic.

Over the weekend, U.S. health officials declared a public health emergency as 40 non-fatal cases of the illness were confirmed in this country, including at least seven in California, mostly in Southern California. However, state and regional public officials today were also investigating possible cases among seventh graders who attend a school in Sacramento County. One boy fell reportedly ill last week with flu-like symptoms after returning from a family vacation in Cancun. 

Should we be worried here in the East Bay about the disease reaching our community? Should you postpone that vacation you were planning to Mexico? 

With regard to traveling to Mexico, the US government was planning to issue a warning later  today urging Americans to avoid all "non-essential" trips to Mexico because of the outbreak. 

As for local concerns about the swine flu affecting people in our community, Contra Costa Health Services issued a statement over the weekend.  It said that local health officials are working closely with state and federal authorities to monitor any suspected cases.  Of the cases reported thus far in California, all have "been mild to moderate, and those infected have recovered."

Health officials urged anyone who becomes ill with flu-like symptoms to stay home and avoid contact with as few people as possible. These symptoms include fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. You should contact your doctor if the symptoms persist or if you're worried about your symptoms. Your doctor will decide whether you should be tested for the swine flu.  

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs that normally doesn't infect people. However human infections do occur and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the swine flu virus is contagious and can spread from human to human—but how easily is not quite known.

For more information about the swine flu, visit the Contra Costa Health Services special swine flu page on its website. It also contains a fact sheet and general information on swine flu from the CDC.