Two swine flu cases confirmed in Virginia

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, April 30, 2009

Virginia health officials have confirmed the first two cases of swine flu in the state.

The patients, an adult male from eastern Virginia and an adult female from the central part of the state, are reported to be recovering well from minor bouts of the illness, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Both patients traveled to Mexico in recent weeks. Neither case required hospitalization. The agency has a policy that prohibits it from identifying the city or county in which a patient suffering from a communicable disease resides, in order to maximize patient privacy.

State Health Commissioner Karen Remley said it is likely Virginia will see additional cases, based on the state’s population, seasonal travel patterns and the ease with which the virus is spread.

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Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of human flu, and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people report having diarrhea and vomiting. The illness can exacerbate chronic medical conditions.

The swine flu virus is spread from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing. People can become infected by touching something with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes. The virus is not spread through eating pork that has been properly handled and prepared.

People should try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated, should avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Everyone should cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, dispose of the tissue in the trash immediately and wash their hands afterward.

People with swine flu should be considered potentially contagious as long as they have symptoms and for seven days after getting sick. Infected people may be able to infect others a day before symptoms develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

People who believe they are infected with swine flu should call their doctor and discuss their symptoms, McCoy said. A doctor could be able to differentiate swine flu from a common cold or allergies over the phone, without bringing a sick person out where they could infect others, McCoy said. Those who are sick should stay home from school and work.