H1N1 Flu Preparations - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

H1N1 Flu Preparations

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Iowa's healthcare system is bracing for an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus.

State officials say there may be 2 probable cases in the state with dozens more suspected cases still waiting on test results.

The two probable cases are in Des Moines County and Clinton County.

Samples from those cases are now at the Centers for Disease Control.

Confirmation could come as early as Thursday morning.

"Now is the time to continue our diligence and exercise caution. There is no need for alarm," said Iowa Governor Chet Culver.

At a news conference in Des Moines, Governor Culver and state health officials told of two probable flu virus cases.

"Now that this strain has been introduced to the state, we believe the virus will spread across Iowa. Lab confirmation is still pending but we anticipate seeing more cases in Iowa," said Iowa Dept. of Public Health Director Tom Newton.

Black Hawk County Health Department director Tom O'Rourke is monitoring cases on a local level.

"We are planning for the potential of a large outbreak. Always hoping that it doesn't happen," said O'Rourke.

Health officials are urging prevention.

They say avoid contact with anyone who is sick

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.

If there's no tissue, sneeze into your elbow.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

"It is spread when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes near someone else. Also by touching a doorknob after someone coughed into thier hand and touched the doorknob," said state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.

Meantime, medical professionals are urging people with flu symptoms of a 100 degree fever, coughing, sneezing, and a sore throat to call their doctor before leaving the house so as not to spread the virus in the waiting room.

"Stay home, call, say I don't feel so good. I've got these symptoms. Then the general message is we want to prepare for the patient to arrive and the physician office, as possible, and be more alert in the scheduled situation," said Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Paul Franke.

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Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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