Arkansas is still swine-flu free, a spokesman for the state Health Department said this afternoon, but the rate of spread worldwide makes its arrival here likely.
“We may find some here and it may not be all that long” before someone comes down with it, Ed Barham said. “Last week we weren’t even looking for it.” The CDC has confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the U.S. since last week; none was fatal.
“A lot” of throat swabs from doctors seeing flu patients in Arkansas are coming in to the Health Department lab, Barham said. He was checking on the precise number. He said he did not believe the department had found any it could not type. The virus, A/H1N1, is a
new mutation; the Health Department will send any swabs it can’t recognize to the CDC for examination.
Barham said the state had 286,000 “treatment regimens” in stock and had ordered 105,000 more today. Tamiflu and Relenza are being used to treat the virus; it will be distributed to medical personnel first.
“What we want are for doctors who have a Type A flu diagnosis that they can’t type to send it to us,” Barham said.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences met with state health officials today, spokesperson Leslie Taylor said. UAMS has an emergency preparedness plan in place, one expanded on when there were concerns that a deadly bird flu virus (H5N1) could spread to the United States.