Swine Flu: Arizona on the Lookout for "Inevitable" Cases of New Virus


Doctors and clinicians across the state are preparing for what one official called the "fairly inevitable" discovery of a new strain of swine flu in Arizona.

See: Shots of the Swine Flu's impact on Mexico City in this slide show.

No sign of the virus that has killed 103 and sickened more than 1,600 in Mexico has been seen yet Arizona, "but we expect it," Laura Oxley of the state Department of Health Services tells New Times this morning. "We're asking doctors to be especially vigilant."

A health communications system allows state officials to contact health-care workers in nearly every community with information about the disease, and vice-versa. Patients with flu-like symptoms are being asked about travel history, and doctors can send samples in suspected cases to the state lab, Oxley says.

Meanwhile, many Arizonans went to work and sent their children to school as usual this morning, with no hint of the kind of fear gripping parts of Mexico. Still, there's no time like the present for top-notch hygiene practices.

"You have to be especially careful right now," says Oxley. "Nobody has any antibodies against this."

Normal flu takes up to three days to incubate. Officials figure this one might take as many as seven -- no one knows for sure. If you get a sudden onset of fever or other flu symptoms, like a sore throat, stay home, Oxley says.

"If you get really icky, call your doctor. Be sure to talk about any travel history," she says.

We left a message this morning with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to find out what precautions are being taken at the airports and international ports-of-entry. We'll update this post if they call back.

Julie Rodriguez, spokeswoman for Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, says health officials haven't yet asked the airport -- which has daily flights to and from Mexico -- to take any special precautions.

Other swine flu news this morning:


* Some states see schools close

* Obama says swine flu is no reason for alarm

* Wall Street Journal reports that the flu caused a decline in stock prices

* European Union warns citizens to postpone travel to parts of the United States and Mexico

* Possible case in Michigan



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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.