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Our View: State, local health officials staying diligent
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Like the bird flu, SARS and the 1976 incarnation of the swine flu, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus may, indeed run its course in the United States much like President Obama said last week he thinks it will. We all certainly hope that's the case.

But as the number of probable cases of swine flu continue to rise in the U.S. - as of Sunday evening there were a suspected 66 cases in Wisconsin alone - there's also the slight possibility that the virus could continue to mutate and turn into the deadly worldwide pandemic that health officials have been warning us of. It's just too early to tell.

Which is why the best course of action is for the government, media and health organizations to be providing the most information possible to the public. There cannot be too much information provided, no matter how much the general public wants to criticize the government or news organizations of blowing the story out of proportion.

If this didn't have the potential to become a very serious situation, our public health officials and others wouldn't be in constant communication and continually monitoring the situation and planning for the worst. Thankfully, we have every indication that our state and local officials - as well as our federal government - are doing just that.

It was not long after Rock County announced it had its first probable case of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) on Friday that Monroe Clinic was announcing a heightened level of precaution. The Clinic on Friday postponed its planned public open house of its Fast Care facility in Monroe's ShopKo - in order to have as many personnel available as possible at its health care facilities. Monroe Clinic also tightened visitation privileges at its hospital, restricting patient visits only to immediate family members who are considered healthy. With the virus apparently present in neighboring Rock County, the Clinic decided it best to take the precautionary measures.

Earlier in the week, the Times had a story about how area school districts are working with county, state and national health departments to decide when and if schools need to be closed over fears of H1N1 spreading.

"Things are unfolding day by day, hour by hour," said Monroe school district nurse Lori Soderberg, who told the Times she is working closely with Green County public health official RoAnn Warden and Monroe Clinic to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, according to a study last year by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Wisconsin received a 10 out of 10 for its health emergency preparedness. It was one of only five states to receive the highest rating.

Our local and state officials have prepared for this kind of outbreak, and are displaying a deftness at communicating amongst themselves and with the public about what is occurring. That's a reassuring fact we all should be grateful for.