Flu Fears Flounder

POSTED: Friday, May 8, 2009 - 5:42pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 3:23pm

EL PASO--- The head of the local Texas State Dept. of Health Services says he's seeing news signs, that fears of the swine flu are floundering.

Just last week face masks, hand sanitizer, were all sold out.
People filled emergency rooms in droves to get tested for the swine flu.
A reaction to a new, unknown virus.

"I was actually a little worried, with all the news everything that was happening, all the deaths in Mexico," said Benjamin Beltran of El Paso.

But now?

"There are fewer calls, there are fewer people reporting respiratory symptoms," said El Paso State Dept. Director Dr. Luis Escobedo.

The worry's almost gone, noticed Escobedo. According to him, his department is getting fewer calls and fewer requests for treatment.

"So that I think that by the middle of next week, our work will be diminished to probably a few calls each day," he said.

This, even as the number of confirmed cases here in El Paso and the state has gone up.

"So the number of reported cases is going to go up, but the actual epidemic is, if it hasn't peaked, it's going to peak pretty soon," he said.

But, call it what you want: a hype, or a virus that didn't live up to it's potential, Escobedo says the experience has helped us know how to prepare and react for the next strain of flu.

"People are much more prepared and that the likelihood of these diseases spreading is very... less," he said.

Even El Pasoan Benjamin Beltran says he's noticed a change daily.

"It's more of a habit now I guess. I'm washing my hands constantly and you know, just being careful with food and everything," he said.

But, Escobedo warns, this isn't the last we'll hear of swine flu.

Here's something to think about.
While our summer approaches, we can expect fewer cases here.
But, Escobedo says, countries in the southern hemisphere are soon going to enter into their winter flu season.
Which could keep the swine flu alive and well.

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