State epidemiologist on swine flu

Dr. Tim Jones, the Tennessee medical epidemiologist, told reporters in a conference call Monday afternoon that although no cases of swine flu have been reported in the state he expects infections here.

“We are currently at the stage of this outbreak that we are no longer able to contain it,” Dr. Jones said. “Now, our strategy is basically to slow down the spread. We fully expect to have cases in Tennessee and throughout the U.S.”

However, healthy people should be able to recover without taking anti-viral drugs, he said. Jones recommended that people respond to an outbreak as they would during any flu season.

This year’s flu vaccine does not protect against the swine flu, which Jones referred to as a “novel flu” outbreak. The incubation period from contact with the virus to actual illness averages about four days, he said.

Jones said the state has requested anti-viral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile, which is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of the medicine would go to hospitals and the other half to regional health departments.

In most cases, people will have recovered from the flu before tests confirm that they had this “novel” virus, Jones said.

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