County ‘officially’ avoids H1N1

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Wendy Froggatte, public health nurse, said Tuesday afternoon no cases of swine flu had been confirmed in Allen County, though “it’s likely here.”

Allen County continues to be free of confirmed cases of H1N1 flu. However, it’s likely here, Wendy Froggatte said, because those with symptoms of the virus have not been tested.
Froggatte, public health nurse at the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department, spoke Tuesday afternoon during a quarterly meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of USD 257 schools, said absences Tuesday were minimal, ranging from two at an elementary to 14 at Iola High. Froggatte said Moran schools had about 5 percent of students absent and in Humboldt absentees were “next to zero.”
Part of Froggatte’s job, with fear of a swine flu outbreak, is to track absences in local schools for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. KDHE’s level of concern quickens when absenteeism reaches 10 percent.
Froggatte said she expected the first H1N1 vaccine to arrive in Iola the middle of next week.
The priority for inoculations will be:
— Pregnant women.
— People who live with or care for infants younger that six months.
— Health care and emergency medical personnel.
— Anyone from six months though 24 years of age.
— Anyone from 25 through 64 years with certain chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system.
People 65 and older are considered least at risk because of exposure to various strains of flu in previous years.
Froggatte also stressed that the vaccine, contrary to horror stories making the rounds on the Internet, was safe and any side effects likely would be minimal.
Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, made the same observation in appearances on national news programs this morning. Sebelius noted that the swine flu vaccine was prepared the same as that for seasonal flu.
Inoculations will be offered at the health department, 221 S. Jefferson Ave., and in clinics in all three of the county’s school districts. Inoculations of elementary students will require a parent to be on hand, Froggatte said.

WHILE vaccination is a well-known safeguard against the virus, Froggatte said the simple practice of washing one’s hands is also effective.
Tony Leavitt, manager at Herff Jones and LEPC member, said his company had hand sanitation stations “all over the plant, and we’ve told all of our employees to stay home if they feel ill and stay there until their fever is gone.”
“We need to be proactive,” Froggatte said. “Use Clorox wipes if you can’t thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.”
A good hand sanitizer is to mix water and a bleach at a 10-to-1 ratio, better yet 9-to-1, and use it to wet wash cloths or wipes, she said.
People should also cover their noses and mouths with a tissue or elbow when sneezing or coughing.
Froggatte noted that transmission of the virus comes from coughing, sneezing and contact with contaminated objects.
Indications of swine flu, as with other flu variations, are fatigue, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, chills, coughing and sneezing.

JASON NELSON, county emergency services director, was elected LEPC chairman for 2010 and Don Leapheart, Iola fire chief, was elected vice chairman.
Pam Beasley, county Emergency Management Services director, said Oct. 29 emergency responders from throughout the county will be involved in a tabletop exercise to determine “how prepared we are for a disaster. We’ve developed several scenarios and will work our way through them.”
Training sessions on how to deal with weapons of mass destruction and hazardous wastes will be Nov. 2 and 4, hosted by Nelson. Three Iola firefighters have advanced training in that area and others, from Iola, the county and elsewhere will participate.