WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published September 26, 2009, 09:52 PM

Polk County expects high flu numbers

Polk County health workers are anticipating high infection rates in the county.

By: Joel Porter, WDAZ

Polk County is predicting that 30 percent of the people in the county could be infected with the swine flu virus.

And they have some other shocking predictions.

At this time, they're telling everyone in the county not to panic.

They want people to take steps to safe guard themselves, but they also offer some advice.

That means getting a flu shot, talking with a doctor and staying home if you're sick.

Joel Porter/ WDAZ News: The H1N1 virus is coming. And public health workers in Crookston are preparing for the worst.

Sheri Altepeter/ Comm. Health Services Admin: If it's a moderate pandemic, we may have 22 deaths, and if it's a severe pandemic, kind of the worst case scenario then there could possibly be 202 deaths in Polk County.

Joel Porter/ WDAZ News: Polk county's shocking prediction also says that H1n1 could infect 30 percent of the people in the county. The public health department is already in the process of vaccinating people for seasonal flu, but they'll soon also begin inoculating people for the swine flu virus as well.

Sheri Altepeter/ Comm. Health Services Admin: We're asking for patience in October and November because we will not have enough for everybody, and we'll want to focus first on those priority groups.

Joel Porter/ WDAZ News: Right now, Altepeter says children around 12 years old are most susceptible to the outbreak. Once the vaccines arrive, they'll begin giving shots to children, health care workers in the county and those who spend time around large groups of children.

Sheri Altepeter/ Comm. Health Services Admin: This is probably the biggest most serious thing we've dealt with besides the '97 flood.

Joel Porter/ WDAZ News: Fortunately, Altepeter says by the end of December, they'll have enough H1N1 vaccines for everyone in the county, so long as the strain doesn't mutate. For now, both the CDC and the county are using the slogan "take three."

Sheri Altepeter/ Comm. Health Services Admin: Take time to get vaccinated, and take everyday precautions and then take anti-virals if recommended by your medical provider.

Altepeter says people should not panic.

If the governor declares a state of emergency in Minnesota, Polk County will be setting up two flu centers for H1N1.

One in Fosston and one in Crookston.

Those sites would be established if some of the area emergency rooms are overwhelmed.