Swine flu cases on the rise

July 24th, 2009 by

TAMPA – Just when you thought it was fading away, swine flu is back, and with a vengence. It could have dangerous consequences for the state of Florida.

The Florida Health Department says we may see as many as 5 million cases of swine flu in the state over the next year if this pandemic continues to follow previous patterns.

It seems the number of swine flu cases in the state of Florida is rising on a daily basis. Thirteen people have died this past week alone, bringing the state’s total to 25.

That includes 3 men in the Bay Area: one in Hernando County and two in Hillsborough.

“Obviously there’s a lot of children [around],” says concerned parent Stacy Sempek. “We have summer school activities, and as much as I can [do to] prevent them…hopefully the strain will run its course and go through.”

Local parents are being extremely cautious; many of them downright nervous. Health experts say, however, that most of Florida’s deaths were in patients with underlying medical conditions. Officials say they don’t want people to panic, only be cautious.

“There’s some evidence that this virus has a better ability to [cling] to lung cells, deep in the lungs,” says Dr. Richard Hopkins of the Florida Health Department. “That may explain why we have a certain number of very serious infections.”

The Centers for Disease Control predicts 20 to 40 percent of the population could get H1N1 if it continues to spread at this rate. Experts say if it does continue to spread at this rate, it would be similar to the 1957 pandemic and could cause many deaths.

State health officials say they are surprised that the virus is continuing to spread during the summer months; typically this type of virus thrives on drier air, mostly seen in Florida during the winter. However, experts say outbreaks are appearing at places like day care centers, summer camps, and prisons.

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