State health leaders urge people to prepare for swine flu

Dr. Sarah Park
Dr. Sarah Park

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - No cases of the swine flu have been reported here in Hawaii, but health officials are asking doctors to send virus specimens from patients showing flu symptoms to the state lab for testing.

Hawaii health leaders recently joined a conference call on the virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC organized for the states. They want to make sure we're prepared as the situation unfolds.

"This is the time to get your house in order, watch what's happening in Mexico right now," Dr. Sarah Park said.

Dr. Park is with the State Department of Health. She strongly urges people in Hawaii to prepare in case the swine flu spreads here.

"Do you have enough food in your home, enough water, do you know how you'll fund yourself if you need funds," she said.

But there are other ways to keep yourself and others around you safe from this deadly flu.

"Not attending those luaus, potlucks or paddling practices or whatever, think how this will impact all of that," she said. "It's almost ironic how this is real life scenario, really emphasizes the discussion we've been having in terms of our public engaging project regarding pandemic flu."

So far, the flu has invaded a few states and although Hawaii may seem isolated from the upper 48, Dr. Park says it's no excuse to ignore the possibility of it coming here.

"We've not identified anything to this date in Hawaii, so we've been given a gift in being given time to prepare, get our house in order, take advantage of that time right now," she said. "This is not the time right now to say, next day or whatever, we'll deal with it later, this is the time now, we don't know what'll happen the next day."

U.S. health officials are warning people who may have recently traveled, or have flu-like symptoms to get checked by a doctor and take precautions.

Doctors say, wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, and take the same precautions as you would to avoid any other type of flu virus.