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Placer County waiting on first swine flu case

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County was still waiting Wednesday for its first swine flu case. And health officials are convinced that case is going to come. Five more tests were completed late Wednesday on samples from potential swine flu patients in Placer County and all five turned out negative. The testing brings to six the number of samples from the county that have not turned up traces of a disease the World Health Organization has signaled could be on the verge of reaching global pandemic stage. For now though, Placer County Health & Human Services is continuing to collect samples for culturing and testing at a Sacramento County lab. Three positive tests in Fair Oaks resulted in the temporary closure of an elementary school there. Jim Gandley, assistant director of Placer County Health & Human Services has submitted 30 samples for testing and the ones already tested represent the most likely candidates for positive status among the ones received so far. But Gandley also reiterated that it’s probable swine flu will come to Placer County. “If we got one or two positive results it would not be overly alarming,” Gandley said. “We’re expecting that.” The Mexican government has reported more than 150 deaths linked to the swine flu. There has been one death in the U.S. – a Mexican baby whose family was visiting Texas. Gandley said there are no indications that a stronger strain is spreading quickly on this side of the border. “The good news at this point is this strain is not acting any differently than the communicable bread and butter form of influenza,” he said. That would mean a fever and severe symptoms over three or four days. Because no swine flu has been found yet, the county health department has made no recommendations on canceling parties or gatherings, he said. Schools, like Placer High School in Auburn, are posting information or links to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, but staying open. But people who have come down with flu-like symptoms should try to stay away from public areas, he said. “It’s what we call common sense,” Gandley said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.