Bay Area health officials brace for deadly swine flu that has killed at least 20 in Mexico.
Concerned that a new strain of influenza that has killed at least 20 people in Mexico could trigger a global pandemic, state and local public health officials are asking hospitals and physicians to increase their surveillance and advised those with flu symptoms to stay home and call a doctor.
The same strain of swine flu that sickened at least eight people in Southern California and Texas this month has also sickened hundreds more in Mexico, leading health officials Friday in Mexico City to close schools and to take other steps to restrict transmission.
Health officials know of no cases in Northern California, but said the Bay Area could be particularly vulnerable because of its extensive global connections. Santa Clara and other Bay Area county health departments activated their emergency operations centers Friday afternoon and began contacting medical providers.
“What we’re concerned about is whether the conditions have been met that puts this situation in a potential pandemic situation, one that sets up the circumstances that might lead to a broad-based epidemic or pandemic throughout the world,” said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state’s public health officer.
It may be several days before health officials know the full extent of the threat, but scientists are racing to better understand the virulence of the swine flu strain and the ease with which it is transmitted among…read more here…