The official count of confirmed swine flu cases in the U.S. is now up to 20, spanning five states including Colorado neighbor Kansas. With health officials saying the size and scope of the disease is likely to grow, Colorado officials say they're getting ready.
The Mesa County Department of Health says because there have been no confirmed cases of the flu strain in Colorado, at this point its main course of action is to monitor the situation and stay in contact with both health care professionals and the general public.
Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in the country -- by way of that, Governor Bill Ritter announced Sunday afternoon he has asked the federal government to send anti-viral drugs and supplies, like face masks, so Colorado will be ready for any possible outbreak of the virus, that officials believe has killed dozens of people in Mexico.
Health officials say the strain that has shown up in the U.S. appears to be mild and only one of the 20 cases has required hospitalization.
They say they also want to stress that it is perfectly safe to eat pork products and that no statement urging citizens to avoid travel to Mexico has been issued.
But above all, they ask that you use common sense and take easy, preventative steps like washing your hands to keep you safe.
"There's no reason to panic," said Kristy Emerson, spokesperson for the Mesa County Health Department. "We just want to make sure that folks are aware that this is occurring, that your state and federal government are working on communicating and staying on top of the information."
The Mesa County Health Department and State Health Department have created the following information lines for anyone who has questions about swine flu:
Mesa County Health Dept pre-recorded information line: (970) 248-6989
State Health Dept CoHELP line: 1-877-462-2911
The Montrose County Health Department says it is also monitoring the situation and is releasing daily reports on confirmed cases of swine flu across the country. Officials say Montrose residents looking for more information can call them at (970) 252-5000.