Officials Prepare Measures to Guard Against Swine Flu

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Efforts to prevent the spread of the swine flu escalated yesterday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California and local school officials issued warnings to students.

According to Schwarzenegger, there are 11 confirmed cases of the swine flu in California-five in San Diego, five in Imperial County and one in Sacramento.

"(The state of emergency) gives us some extra tools for our health authorities in order to respond very quickly and it also will cut through the red tape so that all state agencies will have to go and assist the Department of Public Health in every way possible," he said in a press conference yesterday.

Two additional unconfirmed cases have been reported in Marin County, according to Kathy Dervin, public health preparedness coordinator in Berkeley's Department of Health and Human Services.

She said that although no cases have been found in Berkeley, the city is coordinating with Bay Area counties to quickly find and treat possible swine flu cases.

Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett sent out a letter Monday informing the school community about preventative measures the district is taking, such as encouraging personal hygiene.

The letter was meant to update the community about the swine flu, which is not a major concern for the district, said District Spokesperson Mark Coplan.

"The biggest concern is keeping the situation calm and keeping parents confident that there's no need or reason to panic," he said.

According to Coplan, the district is working with the city's Department of Health and Human Services on measures to protect against the swine flu. He said one measure the district is taking is the WHACK the Flu campaign, which teaches students to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and to wash their hands.

In a letter sent to all UC Berkeley students yesterday, campus officials said the university is also making efforts to help local, state and federal authorities survey the outbreak of the swine flu with a Pandemic Flu Preparedness Team.

In light of the outbreak, Berkeley High School parent Garth Mitchell said that he will take regular precautions to prevent his son from contracting the swine flu.

"It is a concern, major, but it is my impression that you treat it like any other flu," Mitchell said. "I actually advised my kid to try to avoid big groups."


Contact Erika Oblea at [email protected]

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