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  • Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

    http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/ar...904290386/1001

  • #2
    Re: Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

    Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

    By Dan Nakaso
    Advertiser Staff Writer


    "A handful" of people in the Islands — including one arriving from Mexico — are being tested for swine flu, state health officials said yesterday.


    None of the cases has been confirmed, state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park emphasized yesterday at a Capitol press conference.

    The people are being tested in a two-stage procedure where their specimens are first tested at a clinical lab and then at the state laboratory. Park would not say exactly how many people are being tested.

    The work of tracking down information on the patients requires "footwork," Park said. "It's entailing quite a bit of work."

    As more cases of swine flu are popping up on the Mainland, some Hawai'i physicians are getting requests from patients for prescriptions for anti-viral flu medications, Park said.

    Park implored people to stay calm and follow common-sense hygiene procedures.

    "Please, please, please, do not stockpile," she said. "Do not engage in personal stockpiling at home. You're doing a disservice to the community. ... Once you use it, it's gone and it's not useful to you, your family or anyone else out there. Please, please, please do not stockpile at home."

    The anti-viral medications treat flu in general. No vaccine has been developed for this new type of swine flu.

    Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Hawai'i's health director, said there are 172,000 courses of anti-viral treatment on O'ahu. Hawai'i also has been pledged 186,000 more courses from the Strategic National Stockpile, she said.

    Another 40,000 courses will be released by federal officials in three increments, with the first shipment scheduled to arrive May 3, Fukino said.

    While Park discouraged people from seeking stockpiles of prescription anti-viral flu medications, she suggested they store at least 30 days worth of their normal medications for the possibility that swine flu could reach the Islands — potentially leading to calls for people to stay home.

    For now, however, everyone should show up at work as usual and children should continue to attend school, Fukino said.

    "We encourage you to allow your children to attend school and to go to work," Fukino said.

    Senator criticizes

    State Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-19th (Kapolei, Makakilo, Waikele) said yesterday that the state needs to put on "a full-court press" at its airports to make sure swine flu does not enter the Islands.

    He wants state officials to:


    *Take the temperatures of incoming passengers;


    *Screen passengers from Mexico;


    *Ask passengers to fill out a questionnaire in flight, detailing whether they have any flu symptoms and where they recently traveled;


    *Distribute information to hotel guests, including a hot line number to call if they develop flu symptoms.

    On Monday, Gov. Linda Lingle urged residents to remain calm but vigilant and to be prepared in the event that swine flu makes its way to Hawai'i.

    But Gabbard yesterday called Lingle's response to the outbreak too passive.

    "An ounce of prevention is going to be worth many, many tons of the cure," Gabbard said. "We can and must do more."

    In response, state transportation director Brennon Morioka said, "We are doing everything that we have planned for. ... We believe that we are ready to address any form of condition or situation that might arise. We should not be overreacting to a threat that we believe is currently manageable here in the state."

    'Ahead of the game'

    Hawai'i does have a pilot project with three international flights to have passengers fill out a questionnaire, Park said.

    And the state Health Department yesterday unveiled a new swine flu information line for callers to get up-to-date information.

    On a conference call yesterday with her counterparts on the Mainland, Park was told that Mainland airports do not have the diagnostic capability to screen arriving passengers suspected of being ill.

    But Honolulu International Airport does.

    "Hawai'i, in effect, is actually way ahead of the game in terms of our surveillance compared to other states," Park said. "We're the only state that does have any surveillance at all at the airports. ... We're the only one that has diagnostic capacity."

    The system relies on airline crews to identify potentially ill passengers. Hawai'i health and transportation officials are now working to develop similar procedures for arriving cruise ship passengers.

    Park did acknowledge that the system "is not a wall. ... Surveillance is not a barrier."

    Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

      A "handful" of suspect patients in Hawai'i have been cleared for swine flu
      Hawai'i remained swine flu-free yesterday, but some patients on O'ahu with the common flu could not get their prescriptions filled for flu medications known as Tamiflu and Relenza. A "handful" of suspect patients in Hawai'i have been cleared for swine flu, including one who had traveled to Mexico, state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said at a Capitol press conference yesterday. Photo gallery Video More »

      * 'Great vigilance' against flu vowed (1:13 a.m.)
      http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

        Hawaii has been "glowing red" on influenza maps for a week or so now. It will make it difficult to identify specific symptoms as being applicable to A/H1N1.
        “The only security we have is our ability to adapt."

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Possible swine flu cases in Hawaii awaiting test results

          Posted on: Thursday, April 30, 2009

          Hawaii so far free of swine flu but short of drugs at pharmacies
          Normal demand depleted stock, officials believe
          http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/ar...904300350/1352

          By Dan Nakaso
          Advertiser Staff Writer

          Hawai'i remained swine flu-free yesterday, but some patients on O'ahu with the common flu could not get their prescriptions filled for flu medications known as Tamiflu and Relenza.


          A "handful" of suspect patients in Hawai'i have been cleared for swine flu, including one who had traveled to Mexico, state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said at a Capitol press conference yesterday.

          No new suspect cases of flu had been reported in the 24 hours before yesterday's press conference, she said.

          As swine flu cases continue to rise on the Mainland, some flu patients such as Nikolas Michaud of Kailua have been tested for swine flu — and been cleared.

          Michaud, 19, came down with symptoms of fever, body ache, chills, cough, congestion and headache four days ago. But yesterday he still could not get his doctor's prescription filled for Tamiflu.

          "I called my doctor, I called Longs Drugs and I called Walgreens," Michaud said. "I asked at Longs at Kailua and they told me none of the Longs has it."

          At yesterday's Capitol press conference, state health officials acknowledged shortages of antiviral flu medication.

          "There has been an over-abundance of demand," Park said. "It may be just slow to get here, but it will get here. So don't panic. Prepare."

          Afterward, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the cause of the shortage may be the normal seasonal flu that actually runs year-round in the Islands.

          No vaccine has yet been developed against swine flu, and Tamiflu and Relenza are only used for treatment — not prevention.

          Health officials have stockpiled 172,000 courses of antiviral treatment in an undisclosed location on O'ahu, Okubo said. Another 186,000 courses have been pledged to Hawai'i from the Strategic National Stockpile.

          But the 358,000 courses can only be released under strict federal guidelines, which most likely would include a swine flu pandemic and a confirmed case of swine flu in the Islands, Okubo said.

          "That stockpile doesn't supply pharmacies," Okubo said. "We cannot use it for seasonal flu unless we get approval from the federal government."

          Representatives for Walgreens Drug Store and Longs acknowledged shortages of antiviral flu medication on O'ahu, but declined to identify which stores have — and do not have — supplies.

          "Each store varies by location," said Walgreens spokesman Nathan Hokama. More supplies should arrive in O'ahu Walgreens stores "in the next day or so."

          Pharmacy employees at the Kane'ohe and Kailua Longs stores where Michaud unsuccessfully tried to get his prescription filled acknowledged shortages at their locations yesterday. They declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

          The corporate spokesman for Longs parent company, CVS Pharmacy, declined to identify which stores may still have supplies on O'ahu.

          "Some Longs Drugs stores in Hawai'i may be experiencing temporary outages and others still have supply in stock," spokesman Mike DeAngelis said in an e-mail. "We are working with our wholesaler partners to deliver new supplies of Tamiflu as quickly as possible, most likely early next week."

          Representatives for two of O'ahu's major hospital systems — The Queen's Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente — did not respond to requests yesterday to describe their supplies of Tamiflu and Relenza.

          Longs Drugs' DeAngelis said sales of hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and protective masks and gloves remain "brisk" in Hawai'i.

          "We are working with our product suppliers to help meet the increased demand for these items," DeAngelis said in his e-mail.

          The state Health Department continues to be swamped with calls from concerned residents over the swine flu scare, said state health director Dr. Chiyome Fukino.

          "A lot of anxiety has been generated in the community," she said. "... We are not trying to work everybody into a frenzy and overly react to the information we are sharing. ... We are not saying that you should keep your children at home now when there is no illness or infection in the community. We are not saying that you should stay home from work."

          There are no direct commercial flights from Mexico to Hawai'i, although several outbound Mexican flights do eventually arrive in the Islands, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tammy Mori said.

          But several cruise ships with Mexican crews and passengers regularly make stops on all major islands.

          "We just want to reiterate to the public that we have the programs and protocols in place to address any issue that might arise from a situation on any aircraft or cruise line that might be coming into the state," said Brennon Morioka, director of the state Department of Transportation. "We have been prepared for a while now."

          Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.
          “The only security we have is our ability to adapt."

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