As cases of swine flu (H1N1) virus multiplied elsewhere, Island towns were quick to issue guidance this week about taking precautions and being prepared should the virus spread. In Massachusetts, Department of Public Health officials confirmed two cases in Lowell.

The Oak Bluffs board of health distributed public health fact sheets explaining that swine flu is an unusual respiratory disease with symptoms similar to seasonal flu: fever, cough and sore throat, as well as aches, chills and fatigue. The board offered special recommendations for schools and child care providers, including frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if you are sick.

Likewise the Tisbury board of health sent out a press release reassuring Islanders that local, state and federal health officials were working closely to respond to any signs of outbreak.

The state Department of Public Health has increased surveillance for possible swine flu incidence, asking health care providers and hospital emergency rooms to be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms, particularly in people who have recently traveled to Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, or to places with a concentration of cases, including Texas and New York.

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