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Buchanan: No reason to panic on swine flu

BRADENTON — Manatee County and Florida are prepared to deal with a swine flu outbreak, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and local officials said at a public forum Friday to address public concerns.

“We are facing a very serious public health concern, but there is no reason to panic,” Buchanan told about 75 people who attended the event in county commission chambers. “We have no confirmed case yet in Manatee County or in Florida. There will be more cases, more hospitalizations and deaths in the weeks to come but federal, state and local health officials have a coordinated response.”

Manatee Memorial Hospital and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center have flexible plans to respond as the situation unfolds, said Rei Lopez, who oversees infection control for the two hospitals.

Likewise Blake Medical Center is prepared, said Dan Friedrich, chief executive officer.

Dr. Gladys Branic, director of the Manatee County Health Department, stressed the public plays a key role in containing the spread of swine flu by practicing prevention strategies like washing hands and avoiding exposure to sick people.

Linda Neely, mother of a Braden Middle School student, said school principals make it difficult for kids to follow those rules because they have removed the soap and paper towels from restrooms due to vandalism.

Forrest Branscomb, the school district’s risk manager, and Sue Troxler, head of school nurses, promised to take Neely’s concerns to Supt. Tim McGonegal.

Other participants called for closing the border to Mexico to contain the virus.