Southern Illinois receives H1N1 medications

By Julia Bruck - email

Southern Illinois' stockpile of H1N1 antiviral medications now sits in a secure location.  Illinois National Guard and state police helped distribute it.  One of the places it arrived is in Franklin and Williamson counties.
"We're basically prepositioning it, so that should we start seeing cases in this area we'll be ready to decimate it," said Whitney Mehaffy, Director of Health Education for Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department.
That also includes antiviral medications known to fight against H1N1 along with prevention equipment, but Mehaffy says this doesn't mean the health department will start giving out the medicine.
"They want you to use your local resources first then if needed, based on communication with health care providers and pharmacies then we would use those stock piles should we start seeing cases in our area," Mehaffy said.
Even then, Mehaffy says they will continue to follow guidance provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Currently no cases of H1N1 have been confirmed in southern Illinois, making the stockpile only a precautionary measure for now. 
"It's a lot of work and it takes a lot of people to preposition and be prepared for this but we are working diligently," Mehaffy said.
Mehaffy says you can not get H1N1 from eating pork or any other foods from affected areas. She also adds a flu shot will not protect you from the illness. 
Instead it's best to remember the three C's. Those include Clean - Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds; Cover - Make sure to cover coughs and sneezes; and Contain - If you are sick, stay home.
Some southern Illinois hospitals also got medicine and supplies from the state to combat H1N1.
Illinois Healthcare Communications coordinator Rosslind Rice says state police delivered antiviral medicine to hospitals early Friday morning.  Those include Herrin Hospital, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.  Rice says Herrin Hospital and others already are stocked with the medication.  While right now there is not a need to use the extra supplies, Rice says they are prepared to use them if needed.

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