The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on April 26 declared a public health emergency for the H1N1 virus, also being referred to as “swine flu.” As I write this column, the World Health Organization is indicating this is a Category 5 health emergency, one step away from an official pandemic.
Gov. Brad Henry has asked all citizens to be vigilant and make every effort to help prevent the spread of the virus. Fortunately, there are no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Oklahoma yet.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is the lead state agency in Oklahoma’s prevention and intervention effort. The Oklahoma State Department of Education is working in partnership with the Health Department and other state agencies.
While this is an international concern, we would remind parents and school employees of the pivotal role each of them plays in preventing the spread of illness among school children.
Strategies for preventing swine flu, its symptoms, and up-to-date information on the public health emergency, including information sheets that can be distributed to parents and schools in English and Spanish, are available from the Health Department’s Web site, which we have linked on our home page
www.sde.state.ok.us. OSDH has set up a hotline for sharing information with citizens, (866) 278-7134.