Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nashville sets up swine flu hotline as TN health chief urges calm

By Heidi Hall • THE TENNESSEAN • April 30, 2009 Metro Nashville partially activated its emergency operations center and launched a swine flu hotline Thursday for residents who need up-to-date information about the pandemic. The hotline number is 615-340-7775. Tennessee's top health official said this morning residents should prepare for months of swine flu infections and make family plans to deal with it. The Centers for Disease control is working to include the Novel H1N1 virus in next year's flu shot. For now, Tennessee Health Commissioner Susan Cooper is assuring Tennesseans there is plenty of anti-viral medication for people who contract the disease, and health care workers have practiced administering it in mass quantities. She said parents need to be making plans for their families. "If your children are dismissed from school, where are they going to go?" she said. Two schools already have been temporarily closed over the state's only two probable cases to date: Harding Academy in Nashville and School of the Incarnation in Collierville. Education Commissioner Tim Webb said districts will handle school closings on a case-by-case basis in line with CDC recommendations. Schools are still taking field trips to areas that aren't heavily affected. The information came during morning a media conference call. What was missing from the information given: anything that could identify the victims outside of the schools they attend and counties where they live. Cooper wouldn't answer questions about whether the infections were related to Mexico travel. "This is a global issue. It's not just related to Mexico," she said. "Many of the cases we're seeing in the United States have no link to Mexico."

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