Health Official: “This Is Not Overkill”

Dallas County health director defends swine flu precautions

Swine flu precautions are justified, Dallas County's health director said Wednesday.

Director Zachary Thompson urged everyone to pay attention to the spreading virus, even though the number of Dallas County cases -- three -- is relatively small.

"I’m very shocked that some people think this is overkill," he said. "This is not overkill. This is serious."

Texas has 17 confirmed cases of swine flu. Dallas County's three cases and one in Tarrant County are the only confirmed cases in North Texas so far.

School officials have closed schools -- including all of Fort Worth ISD -- where confirmed or probable cases have been reported. And officials have postponed all public high school athletic and academic competitions until May 11.

Health officials said they hope their efforts keep the outbreak from becoming more serious.

"I realize some people think the media may be overblowing this," Thompson said. "But the issue is, it’s not. It is real. We've seen one death in the state of Texas. That’s why were committed to doing the necessary work for 24-7 responding to this."

Several of Dallas County's probable cases have no connection with Mexico, according to Dr. John Carlo, county health department medical director. It adds to the mystery of how the virus is spreading in Dallas County.

Carlo said it is "really important for the individual to take the precautions and make a barrier for themselves." He recommended frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you sneeze and keeping a clean area around you.

A 23-month-old child from Mexico City who was visiting relatives in Texas died of swine flu in Houston on Monday night.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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