Swine Flu Declaration May Mean Little to N. Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chances are excellent that trial versions of the swine flu vaccine will not turn you into a mutant.

    The swine flu outbreak is now a national emergency, but some in North Texas say the declaration is too little, too late.

    Friday, President Barack Obama declared the virus health officials quickly saw grow into a national pandemic, a national emergency.

    "The declaration in essence is kind of a technicality, just like when we declare a disaster to say we're going to allow for resources or funding or to liberalize some of our usual routine just so that we can better care for people," said Dr. Paul Pepe, medical director for the city of Dallas EMS.

    About 1,000 people nationwide have died from the virus. More than 20,000 people have been hospitalized. The swine flu vaccine is still in short supply across the country, including North Texas.

    "We're nowhere near where we thought we'd be," said a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control. "We expect that as we get to the very end of October, the beginning of November, we'll start seeing about eight to 10 million doses per week."

    The president's national emergency declaration allows the government to coordinate faster than normal if a surge in swine flu cases occurs. But it may be too late for North Texas.

    "This is not going to have a major impact, I think, in terms of how we're going to be going about doing things," said Pepe. "We've kind of been through the kind of things they're saying that we should prepare for, and they're trying to say it's OK  to take some special actions."

    Pepe said North Texas emergency rooms are already seeing a decline in the number of swine flu cases.

    He said North Texas is lucky.  Health officials in Los Angeles say they're just starting to see a surge in swine flu cases, just as seasonal flu kicks into high gear.