Hopkins County’s first scare involving the H1N1 influenza virus turned out to be a false alarm.
A person traveling from Mexico who was suspected of being infected with the H1N1 virus was taken off a bus and brought to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital for treatment this morning, but hospital personnel later determined the traveler did not have influenza.
The person was first reported to be a man but later was said to be a woman. She reportedly got on the bus about two hours north of Mexico City and was taken to the medical center’s emergency room about 10:45 a.m.
Robert Stidham, the emergency management coordinator for the city of Sulphur Springs, said he was contacted by Sulphur Springs Fire Department personnel after they were called to Pilot Travel Center, which is a regular stop for bus routes coming through the city.
Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services technicians took appropriate precautions, Stidham said, donning protective masks before treating the woman to lessen the chance of exposure to any disease.
About noon, however, Stidham contacted hospital personnel. He said that once an interpreter was brought in and an interview conducted, they determined the woman did not have flu symptoms.
“There is no swine flu,” confirmed HCMH Chief Executive Officer Michael McAndrew. “The lady that we saw did not have fever or flu-like symptoms. She just had a problem with her jaw.”
Local officials are staying in constant contact with each other to monitor any developments about the virus, which is being blamed for more than 150 deaths in Mexico. The first confirmed death in the United States occurred overnight when a 23-month-old child succumbed to the disease in a Houston hospital.
“The school district, the hospital, the clinics and the emergency management coordinators for both the city and the county are in constant contact with each other,” Stidham said. “We’re holding telephone conferences when needed, and we’re listening in on the state conference calls also.
We’re trying to keep on top of it, to keep everybody informed and trying to keep the rumor mills down low.”
Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said the number of people who travel from Mexico to Northeast Texas — many for agriculture-related jobs — raises the possibility of the virus coming into the area.
“We’ve got all these migrant workers that come in from South Texas and Mexico, and we’re going to have to keep a close eye on it,” Millsap said today.
Millsap also said he was waiting to receive special orders being issued by Gov. Rick Perry to Texas counties. A conference call with state officials was also scheduled for 3 p.m. today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 16 cases of swine flu in Texas this morning, when Gov. Perry issued a disaster declaration for the entire state.
Perry’s disaster declaration will allow officials to begin emergency protective measures and seek reimbursement from the federal government. Perry also said the CDC has approved his request for additional courses of antiviral medication. He says Texas has 850,000 more courses coming; the state already has 840,000.
In a statement, Perry said ‘‘Texans need to know there is no cause for panic.’’
The state health department and the CDC had confirmed six cases of swine flu before increasing the number to 16 Wednesday.
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