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Erie County Monitoring Swine Flu Outbreak

By WBFO News

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Anthony Billittier says his office continues to keep an eye on the swine flu outbreak. So far, no flu cases have been reported in Western New York.

Billittier has scheduled a 2:00 news conference at the Erie County Medical Center where he'll address the precautions the county is taking. He's also expected to present tips to local residents on the steps they can take to limit the spread of the flu.

Erie County has one of an estimated 30 labs in the country that are capable of testing for new strains of influenza and having the results within hours.

Governor David Paterson announced Sunday that he has activated New York State's health emergency preparedness plan, and put the State on high alert to quickly identify and respond to any cases of swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed eight cases of a new strain of influenza (swine flu H1N1) in New York City, and has declared a public health emergency.

"Many New Yorkers are understandably concerned about the identification of swine flu in New York State, and I want to assure everyone that New York State has the strongest statewide disease monitoring, laboratory and health care response system in the nation," said Governor Paterson. "We are coordinating a strong response with the CDC and city and county health departments. We also activated a 24 hour toll-free hotline that New Yorkers across the State can use to get answers to their questions."

The World Health Organization says there are now 40 confirmed cases of a deadly swine flu strain in the U.S. Mexican authorities report more than 1,600 suspected flu cases, and as many as 149 deaths.