OLYMPIA – There are no known cases of swine flu in Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday, as health officials elsewhere confirmed dozens of cases – including one toddler death – in 10 states.
“Right now, we have no confirmed cases in Washington state, and we are doing our best to monitor the situation hour by hour,” Gregoire told reporters at the capitol.
Given the spread of the illness, however, she added that she would not be surprised to see it crop up in Washington. The virus apparently started in Mexico.
“Some people have suggested shutting the border,” the governor said. “That isn’t going to stop it. It’s human-to-human contact. We already have it in 10 states.”
Washington state officials have asked the federal Centers for Disease Control for enough anti-viral medication to treat 230,000 people. The drugs should arrive late this week or early next week, Gregoire said Wednesday.
“This is not a vaccine,” she said. “It cannot prevent the swine flu.”
The doses are used to battle the illness in people already infected, the governor said.
Washington has also stepped up monitoring for the disease. Mary Selecky, the head of the state Department of Health, said Monday that the state is asking doctors and labs for samples from people who come in with heavy flu symptoms, like heavy breathing, a very bad fever or very sore throat. Those samples are tested by the state.
If the type of flu cannot be determined, she said, the samples are then sent to the Centers for Disease Control for typing.
“Hopefully very soon we will have the capacity to do that (testing) in-state,” Gregoire said Wednesday.
She and Selecky are stressing common-sense steps to prevent getting or spreading the disease, like frequent hand-washing and keeping sick children home. Anyone with flu-like symptoms, Gregoire said, should see a doctor for testing to confirm that they do not have swine flu.
“Our No. 1 agenda right now is prevention,” she said.
Gregoire also said there’s no reason to avoid eating pork.
“There is no reason to be concerned about eating a pork product,” she said. “This is human-to-human contact, is the nature of this new strain of the swine flu.”