In response to a swine flu virus that has caused illness in individuals in five states and Mexico, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has increased its statewide surveillance of influenza activity.
To date, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) in 20 individuals in New York, California, Texas, Ohio and Kansas. In addition, hundreds of cases have been reported in Mexico. No cases have been reported in New Jersey.
"In light of the recent number of confirmed swine flu cases around the country, the Department has enhanced our monitoring of influenza-like illness throughout New Jersey," said New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. "We have asked New Jersey's healthcare providers to continue to be on the lookout for influenza cases or outbreaks. We have been in constant contact with our local health departments and hospitals and will continue to do so."
In the United States, illness has been relatively mild so far compared to the severe illness reported in Mexico. New Jersey residents should stay informed as well as take precautions to prevent from getting ill.
"It's understandable that the general public may be concerned," said Commissioner Howard. "New Jersey has plans in place to respond in the event of a more widespread outbreak. We are in close contact with the CDC and will continue to advise our residents if additional steps are necessary beyond the usual precautions people should take to avoid becoming ill during regular flu season."
Commissioner Howard reminds everyone to take these precautions:
Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues and dispose of them properly.
Frequently wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Stay home if you are sick.
See your physician if illness continues.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu and include fever, lack of appetite, coughing and fatigue. Some people have also reported having a sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. You cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork product. There are no special recommendations for anyone who owns a pig or is routinely exposed to pigs.