No swine flu found in MinnesotaMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Public health officials in Minnesota say they’re responding aggressively to the potential swine flu threat, even though no cases have been confirmed in the state so far.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Public health officials in Minnesota say they’re responding aggressively to the potential swine flu threat, even though no cases have been confirmed in the state so far.
Lab tests came back negative on samples from 14 patients with flu-like symptoms, the Minnesota Department of Health announced over the weekend, but officials say they’ll continue to keep a close watch. And they expect the unusual swine flu strain that’s causes illnesses in Mexico and some other states to turn up here eventually.
State epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield said the samples came from patients scattered around the state, and none were concerning enough to forward to federal authorities. Another 32 samples were being tested or would be soon, she said. The testing process takes just 4 to 6 hours.
‘‘We have been preparing for years for public health threats,’’ Lynfield said. ‘‘We are ready to respond. We have plans in place that we are using.’’
The health department began asking hospitals and doctors on Thursday to submit specimens from any patients with the kind of respiratory symptoms typical of influenza.
Health Department spokesman Buddy Ferguson said the state has been consulting regularly with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stands ready to provide assistance. He said the preparations have been a team effort involving state and local health authorities, the CDC and the World Health Organization.
The department has also asked health care providers to report any patients with flu-like symptoms who have been to Mexico or to parts of the U.S. where the unusual swine flu strain has been found, as well as patients who’ve had contact with sick people who’ve been to those areas.
Minnesota is the nation’s third-largest pork producer, and state Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson said the industry is a billion-dollar component of the state’s agricultural economy. Hugoson said there was ‘‘absolutely no health risk whatsoever in eating a pork product,’’ and in interviews referred to the illness repeatedly as ‘‘North American influenza.’’
‘‘This influenza has regrettably been referred to as the swine flu,’’ Hugoson said. ‘‘This has a mutation of many different forms. It’s not directly related to swine. In fact there has been no confirmed case of it being found in a swine herd.’’
On the Net:
Minnesota Department of Health swine flu site for health care providers: