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Utah health department reports first ‘probable' case of swine flu



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Health says there may be one "probable" case of swine flu in Utah.

The Public Health Lab identified the strain as influenza A but was unable to determine the more specific fingerprint of the virus.

They are sending a flu sample to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing. Results are expected by sometime late Friday.

The health department stressed this is a "probable" case, not a "confirmed" case of the swine flu.

Because it's not confirmed, it isn't releasing any other details regarding the individual. Officials aren't saying who this person is, where they live or how they contracted the flu.

At this point, they don't know if the individual has taken any anti-viral medication. They did say the individual is in home isolation and not in serious condition.

Teresa Garrett, with the Utah Department of Health, said, "It's our policy not to release information on a probable case; could turn out not to be swine influenza. It could turn out to be something else. It's just not appropriate to release that information at this time."

The health department apparently detected this case late Tuesday afternoon. It says it's tested about 50 Utah samples since Tuesday, and of those 50, only one came up as a probable swine flu case.

The health department says it's important to note that it's being proactive in finding isolated cases before more people are infected.

"We will find cases in Utah and, in fact, we are looking very hard for cases," Garrett said. "The sooner we find out about cases and find people who are sick and we do all the things we know how to do, we can get them on treatment."

Meanwhile, pharmacies and hospitals say they have been fielding a lot of calls from Utahns who want to know if they can get masks, gowns and even anti-viral drugs.

Pharmacist Dean Jolley says, for the most part, suppliers are restricting those things to make sure there's enough later on. "We just tell people that and, ‘We're sorry, but hopefully there won't be a need,'" he said.

The state health department hopes the news encourages people to take care of themselves. It wants to remind people to wash their hands often and to stay home if they are sick.

Just to be prepared, Utah received a large stockpile of anti-viral medication Wednesday.

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Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales, Sheryl Worsley and Becky Bruce.

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