Local and state health officials have added an adult from Harford County to the growing list of “probable cases” of Swine Flu (now known as H1N1 virus) in Maryland.
Harford County Emergency Operations Center officials have briefed County Executive David Craig and an emergency protocol is said to be in place if the suspected case of Swine Flu begins spreading locally.
The Harford County Health Department is aware of the situation, is preparing a public statement, and plans on opening up a call center Monday to provide information and answer questions and concerns from Harford residents.
“[Craig] has been briefed by our EOC officials, and will be meeting regularly during the week or weeks ahead to monitor progress. We do have emergency protocols in place should we need to initiate them. With regards to this specific case, the Health Department is the lead agency for this information,” said Aaron Tomarchio, Craig’s chief of staff, Sunday afternoon.
When The Dagger placed a call to the Maryland H1N1 Flu Information Line (1-877-MDFLU4U) on Sunday, the command center representative first said there was no such H1N1 case in Harford.
When told of early press reports mentioning the case, the representative put the call on hold and, after a moment, came back and said that there is one “probable case” in Harford County.
When pressed for more information (man, woman, child) the representative again put the call on hold and came back stating the case involved an adult.
When asked with whom she was conferring to confirm this information, the representative said it was the “Incident Command Chief.” No further information was provided.
The Harford County Health Department was evidentaly aware of the case and was already working Sunday morning to notify the public.
“Be advised that our Health Department presently is developing a press release in this regard that we expect to disseminate later today. We also anticipate opening a HCHD call center tomorrow to provide information to citizens and to answer questions,” Health Department information officer William Wiseman said.
“Also, you may keep abreast of other current H1N1 developments via our website at harfordcountyhealth.com and linking to State, CDC and WHO websites.”
Monday 7 a.m. – The Health Department press release anticipated Sunday afternoon never materialized, but this message has appeared on the department’s web site:
Message from the Acting Health Officer:
Understandably, everyone has concerns about the 2009 H1N1 influenza. Although there are many unanswered questions, there is no cause for alarm. The current situation does, however, necessitate shared responsibility on the part of government, our communities and our citizens.
It is in this light that we wish to share some measures that you personally can take to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes,nose or mouth, since germs spread that way.
Stay away from crowded living and sleeping spaces, if possible.
Stay home if you are sick and avoid contact with other people to protect them from catching your illness.
The Harford County Health Department is working closely with our partners at the state as well as our local government agencies and healthcare providers to monitor the situation and to implement any measures necessary to mitigate the consequences of H1N1 in Harford County.
Because this is a rapidly developing situation, it is important that you have access to the most current information. Our homepage provides answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning the H1N1 flu and links to current reports and updates from DHMH, CDC and the World Health Organization.
On behalf of the Health Department, thank you for your cooperation as we work together to achieve an effective public health response to the H1N1 flu.
Acting Health Officer
The Harford County Health Department website provides the following Swine Flu/H1N1 virus information:
The Citizen’s Common Sense H1N1 Flu Checklist
If you have a Flu-Like Illness Including:
– Fever > 100ºF (37.8ºC) AND Cough OR Sore Throat
– History of travel to an affected area within 7 days of illness onset
– Contact with an ill person fitting the above travel description within 7 days of illness onset
Then Stay Home and CALL your Doctor.