Pandemic Plan

By Evan Johnson - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Emergency personnel from across Calcasieu Parish gathered to discuss preparedness plans for the upcoming hurricane season.  While together, the group also briefly talked about the growing Swine Flu outbreak and what people can do to protect themselves and their families.

Director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) Dick Gremillion says, "Really the preparedness steps are very simple: washing your hands, not coughing on your hands and then touching your eyes and your nose, and then trying to stay away from people who might be infected with the disease."

Calcasieu Parish has a pandemic planning group that's been meeting ever since 2003 when the first case of SARS made news headlines.  Gremillion says that same team will be activated later this week.

The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending Americans not to travel to Mexico unless absolutely necessary, however many are still going on with their plans.  Globetrek Travel Agency issues a couple of safety tips.

Owner and CEO James Halphen says, "The first thing is to go the website.  The second thing is to see a travel physician or someone who knows about travel medicine and talk to them about things you need to do prior to your trip.  Number three is take anti-viral medications with you."

Anti-virals Tamiflu and Relenza should be among those medications.  The drugs have been shown to be effective against the Swine Flu if taken early. The federal government has moved 11 million doses of flu-fighting medicines out of a federal stockpile to where it can be quickly obtained by states in case they're needed.

While there have been no confirmed cases in Louisiana so far, emergency personnel say it's better to be safe than sorry.