Eastern Iowa braces for swine flu - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa braces for swine flu

by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Swine flu hasn't made its way to Iowa yet. But the effects of the disease are already being felt here. From hospitals to travel agencies, many are keeping close tabs on the situation as the virus continues to spread.

"We will get some cases," said Anthony Carter, an emergency room doctor at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids.  "It's not a matter of if."

There still aren't any confirmed cases of the swine flu in Iowa, but hospitals like St. Luke's are getting prepared.

"People who come in who have the symptoms that may be associated with an influenza type of virus we're putting masks on 'em, we're getting 'em swabbed right away with a nasal wash so we can get 'em investigated and see if the test is positive or not as soon as we can," said Dr. Carter. 

At least one St. Luke's patient has been tested for swine flu. Those results will come back in the next few days.

Travel consultant Kirsten Fairweather spent much of her Monday on the phone with clients getting ready to travel south of the border.

"Fielding questions, trying to help people feel a little bit more comfortable about the decision they're going to make, if they're gonna go or not go," said Fairweather.

Among those, two sisters, each getting married this weekend in Mexico.

"They just had been a bit worried, but when I gave them the information, they looked at it and decided that they're gonna go for it," said Fairweather.

Whether you're traveling or not, there are simple precautions you can take.

"Wash your hands," said Dr. Carter. "Cough in a handkerchief."

The Center for Disease Control is advising Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. And Fairweather says if this disease keeps growing, Mexico tourism will take a big hit. The country has already been affected by a rise in drug-related violence.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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