Swine Flu: are we prepared?

Dr. Alan Tice
Dr. Alan Tice

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A leading infectious diseases expert believes, there's a good chance, swine flu could eventually hit Hawaii.

But he says it probably, won't reach a pandemic level.

As more cases of swine flu continue to pop up, Mexico and other countries are treating this as a crisis.

It's even starting to impact the United States. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency.

But Dr. Alan Tice says modern medicine in hawaii is equipped to handle it.

"What has happened in many respects is we have much better technology, much better information systems, so we can see where something pops up in the world, whereas before there wasn't the means of tracking or understanding until the last few decades," said Tice.

But why has the virus hit Mexico harder than it's hit the U.S.?

"Part of it may be it's just new here and what we're seeing in Mexico is an evolving infection that takes its toll after weeks or months almost that it's been there," said Tice.

Still he says, our microbiology technology will be able to react to it fairly quickly.

"If swine flu reaches our shores, what measures are in place to deal with it? We've got a sentinel system. Airplanes are screened by at least information when they come in now from the mainland as well as Asia. We have expertise onsite in terms of the CDC and the department of health. And things can be instituted in terms of rapid detection of this virus," he said.

As Hawaii braces for this microbiotic perfect storm, doctor Tice says it may not be as bad as some people think.

"Will it come? I think there's a pretty good chance but what we know from the mainland is that it may not be much worse than the usual influenza."

"We can identify it better and faster now than we dreamed possible only a few years ago. <18.22> So we know when it's here, we can determine that. We can determine the reaction to it as well."

Dr. Tice also points out that with SARS, there was no treatment or vaccine.

They were able to control the infection and stopped it from spreading.

He says that can be done with swine flu.