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No swine flu in L.A. County yet, health chief says

Swine flu hasn’t yet reached Los Angeles County, but the county’s top health official said it’s inevitable.

“We are just too big and we have too much travel between here and Mexico not to have any cases of swine flu,” said Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

So far, though, Fielding said the 91 flu cases in the United States are not demonstrating the same deadly pattern as in Mexico.

It’s “very similar if not indistinguishable” to symptoms found with the seasonal flu, he said.

Health officials are continuing to study why the pattern of disease appears to be different in Mexico.

“It’s a novel virus we haven’t seen before,” Fielding said.

He urged people to wash their hands long enough to sing the ABCs or “Happy Birthday” twice and to avoid crowds and school if sick.

“There is no reason for the average person in the public going to a gathering to wear a mask,” he said. “There's no evidence that wearing a mask reduces the risk of getting influenza.”

Fielding urged Angelenos to continue their normal activities, including the city’s planned Cinco de Mayo festivities.

-- Ron Lin and Kimi Yoshino 


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