In response to the “swine flu” outbreak that has struck Mexico, and with some reported cases in California, Los Angeles area agencies are taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the swine flu locally.
“Reasonable precautions are being taken at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as more cases of swine flu in the United States were confirmed by federal health officials over the weekend,” Los Angeles World Airports officials said.
Airport custodians, who normally clean and sanitize restrooms twice an hour in LAX’s five terminals where incoming international flights are processed, are sanitizing door knobs, handrails and faucets on a regular basis, airport officials said. In addition, public education signs with general tips on preventing the spread of illnesses — which are regularly posted throughout the airport during regular flu season — are being re-posted.
Airline employees, passenger information and assistance staffers, Customs and Border Protection officers, custodians, and airfield bus drivers have all been reminded to follow long-established practices on good respiratory etiquette, such as covering mouths when coughing or sneezing and washing or sanitizing hands frequently.
Officials note that these actions are reasonable precautions and are not mandated by federal, state or local public health officials.
There are several airlines at LAX that operate a total of 45 daily flights to and from several destinations in Mexico.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has also approved a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe to declare a local health emergency as a routine, precautionary measure should cases of the swine flu spread into Los Angeles County.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared a federal Public Health Emergency as a precautionary step that allows the federal and state government easier access to federal resources.
The federal government is making available to states 25 percent of antivirals and other response materials in Strategic National Stockpile.
Although no cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Los Angeles County, public health leaders believe it is reasonable to expect cases will be identified in the near future as a result of increased surveillance.
“It is critical for the public and media to understand that this declaration is simply a routine measure the county takes during a potential emergency,” said Knabe. “By issuing an emergency declaration, the county is positioned to quickly accept funding or assistance from the federal and state government should cases of swine flu develop in Los Angeles County.”