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Virus No More Dangerous Than Other Influenzas, Officials Contend

Virus No More Dangerous Than Other Influenzas, Officials Contend

The Tribune

May 01, 2009

Arizona’s public health officials are realizing swine flu appears no more dangerous than the annual outbreaks of other influenza viruses. So they’re thinking about scaling down the response when a case is confirmed.

Now they hope the public will follow their lead.

On the same day it was determined the Valley is home to three more sick schoolchildren, authorities pleaded with citizens not to overburden the health-care system. Too many people considered “the worried well” are clogging up hospital emergency rooms, to the detriment of those who actually are sick and injured.

Chandler Regional Medical Center has seen about a 25 percent jump in ER visitors in the last few days, said Dr. Bruce Tiffany, executive director of Premier Emergency Medical Specialists. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center also has seen an increase in traffic.

Tiffany’s company provides emergency medicine specialists for the hospitals’ emergency departments.

“I’m sure the news today (about the two Chandler children) will affect both of those institutions dramatically,” Tiffany said. “It’s local. It’s very real as opposed to some other state, other place. It’s now in our community.”

But the reality of swine flu, public health authorities are determining, is less than what was first feared.

Symptoms are identical to those caused by other strains: fevers, sore throats, body aches and fatigue. The four Maricopa County children confirmed to have come down with swine flu recovered in a matter of days.

“This is behaving just like the regular flu,” county public health director Dr. Bob England said. “If you’re not so sick that you would have gone to seek health care last week, you don’t need to seek health care now.”

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