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Three new cases of swine flu in county confirmed
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Tips for avoiding Swine Flu

• Wash hands with soap and water, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

• Sneeze or cough into a tissue, then throw it away.

• If you suspect you have the flu or have flu-like symptoms, call your physician.

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Flu-watch Sept. 12

East Metro Health officials confirmed three more cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza, also called the swine flu, in Rockdale County on Thursday.

Information on the ages of the persons with the latest confirmed cases was unavailable as of press time.

There have been a total of 13 confirmed cases in the county so far, 10 of which occurred within the last month or so.

Within the state, there have been 192 hospitalizations from swine flu and five deaths as of Sept. 2, and 8843 hospitalized cases and 556 deaths nationally as of Aug. 27.

The CDC listed Georgia, Alaska and Puerto Rico as having widespread influenza activity, meaning the cases are geographically spread throughout the state.

The last confirmed case in Rockdale County was in a Shoal Creek Elementary School staff member who was not a classroom teacher, according to Rockdale County Public Schools spokesperson Cindy Ball.

Hightower Elementary School canceled before and afterschool activities during the week and had students eat lunch in class on Thursday and Friday in an "abundance of caution," according to Ball. The school had seen a number of students absent with the flu or flu-like illness, although none were reportedly confirmed swine flu cases.

The CDC recommends people take everyday preventive actions by washing hands with soap and water, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then throwing away the tissue, and limiting close contact with people who are sick.

Anyone who suspects they have the flu or flu-like symptoms is asked to call their physicians office first, said Rockdale Medical Hospital spokesperson Marsha Terry, unless the symptoms are severe and require hospitalization.

Prescription antiviral drugs can be used to treat the seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu, according to the CDC. Antiviral drugs are most effective if started within two days of symptoms.

Those who have flu-like symptoms are asked to stay home until a fever has been absent for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

The Center also recommends getting the seasonal flu vaccine, particularly pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. The seasonal flu vaccine is now available at public health departments and other clinics. The Rockdale County Health Department, located at 985 Taylor Street in Conyers, can be contacted at 770-785-5936.

The swine flu vaccine is due to come out sometime between mid-October to December, the CDC reports. Public health departments would be administering the vaccine on the local level although private doctor’s offices can apply to the local health district – Rockdale is part of the East Metro Health District - to administer the vaccine as well.