In the event the swine influenza strain “A- H1N1” were to surface in Wayne County, local health officials are gearing for appropriate response, and are now reminding the public of simple tips to curb any risk.


In the event the swine influenza strain “A- H1N1” were to surface in Wayne County, local health officials are gearing for appropriate response, and are now reminding the public of simple tips to curb any risk.
“It’s probably not a direct threat here,” said Frank Smith, Wayne County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Coordinator. “Can we limit it? Probably.”

Wayne County Commissioners, Wayne Memorial Hospital officials and personnel from Wayne County Emergency  Management Agency are participating in daily teleconference calls with the state to keep abreast on the developing situation.
Lisa Champeau, Wayne Memorial Hospital spokesperson, said in a phone interview that about a dozen people visited the hospital with flu-like symptoms for testing. These tests all came back negative. Champeau said that Hospital officials advise that anyone with flu-like symptoms first check with their primary care physician to see if further testing is warranted.
Those symptoms include a combination of nausea, vomiting, aching, fever and diarrhea; some people also develop respiratory problems.
“We’re trying to prevent a panic and having people coming to the E.R.,” said Champeau.
In the event a patient were tested positive for H1N1, the sample would be sent to the Pa. Department of Health for confirmation. Test results take about 72 hours. The test consists of a mouth or nose swab.
People suspected of having the virus will be asked by medical personnel of their recent travels.
Smith advised that travelers be aware of the circumstances of where they are going. “If you visit Mexico City, I probably won’t want to shake your hand when you come back,” he added. The U.S. government is discouraging non-essential trips to Mexico at this time.
At the Commissioners’ meeting Thursday, Kate Daley, who is the Infectious Control Coordinator at Wayne Memorial, said that key departments have been meeting and taking inventory of emergency supplies. This includes test kits, medications, masks and gowns, intravenous supplies, bed space and linens.
The Pa. Department of Health needs each hospital to report their inventory in case supplies need to be shared if a locale has a specific need. The state also has supplies in stock should a local hospital need them.
The Hospital has a Pandemic Committee which has been called into action. In addition to getting prepared, the Hospital is also seeking to educate the public on the issue and to help prevent spread of the flu with basic hygiene. Daley called it “respiratory etiquette” by covering your mouth or nose if you must cough or sneeze.
Commissioner Wendell Kay called this “good common sense advice.”
Daley said that the timing of this flu outbreak is unusual in that the normal flu season is just about over. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will identify a virus and distribute a vaccine in the fall, but in the case of this emerging viral strain identified in Mexico, there is no vaccine ready.
Champeau stated that the Hospital has disaster drills twice a year, but she did not recall having a real incident to put the Pandemic Committee on alert.
Wayne County EMA met with local school officials Wednesday on the need to enact preventative measures.
In the event the H1N1 virus reached epidemic proportions in the region, the Northeast Counter Terrorism Task Force would step up coordinated action. The Task Force is a coalition of emergency management offices in an eight county area.