by Jamey Dunn
Illinois Department of Public Health officials on Wednesday reported nine probable cases of swine flu in the state and are expecting more. Federal and state officials are making efforts to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading in Illinois and the rest of the nation.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last reported 91 confirmed cases in 10 states and one death in Texas. The outbreak of swine flu in multiple areas across the country prompted the federal government to declare a public health emergency. The declaration is an administrative move to kick state and local governments' individual treatment and prevention plans into motion.
Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that the situation is serious but the state is prepared. “While this is indeed sobering, it is important to keep in mind— we are not helpless. The planning, preparation and training that the public health system has been doing since 2001 has us ready to deal with this threat.”
Gov. Pat Quinn made a move similar to the federal declaration with a gubernatorial proclamation that allows him to access state resources to address any needs that may arise. U.S. Health and Homeland Security officials released stockpiled medical supplies and anti-viral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, to the states, and the Illinois Department of Public Health expects the state to receive a shipment this week.
The Illinois State Board of Education has posted information and recommendations regarding swine flu and school closings on its Web site.