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New York Swine Flu “Epicenter”: More Cases Feared

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April 30, 2009

New York, NY — Swine flu experts say there's no doubt about it - New York is an "epicenter" for the virus in the U.S., and they fear more cases are likely. They say however that while the swine flu is spreading, it's not time for face masks in New York - at least not yet.

According to Dr. K. C. Rondello, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Disaster Medical System and professor at Adelphi University, the vast majority of New Yorkers will be OK, if they simply take the usual precautions one would take to avoid the seasonal flu.

"Be aware of every time you put your hands to your face; whether it's putting on makeup, or putting in contacts, scratching your ear or scratching your nose - all of that is dangerous."

Dr. Rondello says this is a host-to-host epidemic, which means the number of cases will gradually rise and then peak. He says we are still at the early stage, so more cases should be expected.

"We are talking about a bug that, while it is quite communicable, is not as virulent or deadly as many other diseases could be. Just like the regular seasonal influenza, most folks are going to fully recover, not require hospitalization, and be able to move on with their lives."

Governor David Paterson told New Yorkers to expect the swine flu to spread to other parts of the state, and health officials were working Wednesday to confirm new likely cases in Cortland, Orange and Suffolk Counties. The governor says the epidemic points to the need for increased primary care for all New Yorkers.

A Mexican toddler who traveled to Texas was the first confirmed death in the U.S. tied to the epidemic.

You can learn more about how this current strain of the swine flu got started, and how it differs from other forms, by going to the AARP Daily Bulletin on their Web site:

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY