Archive for April, 2009

Resident escapes burning home

*published Apr. 29, 2009

As fire raged at this Meadowview Loop home Monday night, an alert neighbor pounded on a window, waking the occupant and allowing him to escape the burning home. BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

A Lake Charles man’s quick actions Monday night saved the life of a neighbor whose house had caught fire.

Larry Breaux said he woke up at about 11:15 p.m. to the sound of someone pounding on a side window of his home at 6933 Meadowview Loop.

“I woke up hearing the banging, with a lungful of smoke,” Breaux said. “I guess I was just sleeping hard.”

He said he did not hear his fire alarm going off.

Bob Green, a neighbor, was closing blinds in the front of his house when he saw smoke “billowing from the front” of Breaux’s house across the street.

“I saw cars in the yard, so I worried that someone was in there sleeping,” Green said.

He told his wife to call 911 and ran out in the heavy rain and thunderstorms to try to wake up anyone inside.

“Five more minutes and I would have been melted to the bed frame,” Breaux said, thanking Green.

Stan Francis, who lives next door to Breaux, said that around 11 p.m. his wife told him she heard a loud boom and thought it was the lightning.

He said he went outside and was unable to see a tree that grows a yard from his house because there was so much smoke.

Francis said he went next door and saw Breaux running out of the back door. He said they went across the street to Green’s house.

He said the Lake Charles Fire Department arrived at about this time. “By the time I moved my cars, the whole house was engulfed in flames,” Breaux said.

The houses on either side of Breaux’s suffered no major damage.

Capt. Jeremy LeBlanc said fire trucks arrived at 11:35 p.m.

“When we arrived, we saw flames coming through the roof and attic area,” he said.

Francis was allowed to go back into his house at about 1:45 a.m., but said firefighters stayed working on Breaux’s house until 8 a.m., making sure the fire was out.

On Tuesday morning, Breaux was in high spirits sitting in the carport, which suffered minimal damage.

“My wife and granddaughter weren’t in the house. I’m alive. It’s OK,” Breaux said.


April 29, 2009 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

Swine flu concern grows

*published Apr. 28,2009

Health officials: Wash hands, cover mouth

Health officials around Southwest Louisiana are on the watch for swine flu cases.

As of Monday afternoon, Louisiana had no reported cases of the disease, which has garnered the world’s attention.

Dr. B.J. Foch, regional administrator and medical director for the state Office of Public Health, told the American Press that government health experts are focusing their attention on educating the public.

“We anticipate there may be some cases to be found in Louisiana,” he said. “But the most important thing people can do is cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and throw the tissue away.”

Also, people are being reminded to wash their hands with soap and water.

Foch said health care professionals late last week were alerted to the threat of swine flu showing up in the Bayou State. He offered a simple explanation of the disease.

“It’s a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen,” Foch said.

“Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs, but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person, also.”

A health official at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital said residents have shown concern about illnesses they suspect could be the flu.

“We have received some calls from people who have been ill and want to know what the symptoms are or if they should go to the doctor for testing. I have been encouraging them to see a doctor,” said registered nurse Belinda Fitzgerald, an infection preventionist director at the hospital.

Dr. Bryan Barootes, a professor at Lake Charles Memorial’s LSU Health Sciences Center, offered advice for people who travel to different regions in the United States and Mexico ––areas where swine flu cases have been reported.

“Your risks go up, and many people from here take cruises out of Galveston and to Mexico. The important thing is to notice the symptoms — it’s like the regular flu with fever and a sudden onset, but not just like allergies. You feel sick. Don’t panic, but be aware of the severity of it and symptoms.”

Barootes added common sense would help to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Like what your mother told you: If you sneeze, cover your mouth and wash your hands, and keep washing your hands,” he said.

Fitzgerald added that respiratory cough etiquette — “you can cough on the inside of your elbow” — should also be used.

Residents concerned about the safety of eating pork don’t have to worry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said swine flu is not transmitted by food and that all food-borne germs are killed when pork is cooked to the recommended internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. According to national reports, there is no evidence that U.S.-raised pigs are infected with the virus or that people can become infected by touching uncooked pork.

Swine flu is spread through sneezing, coughing and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, as well as through contact with infected pigs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


April 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

OEP ready for flu

*published Apr. 27, 2009

No cases confirmed in La.; officials stress prevention
Calcasieu Emergency Preparedness officials said they are ready for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the area in the wake of recent reports on the spread of swine flu.

“We put procedures in place back in 2003 when the first cases of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) made news,” said Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness. “There has been a lot planning since that and news of the avian bird flu.”

Gremillion said he and area officials will meet today to discuss the flu outbreaks and plans the local officials have to handle potential pandemics.

A meeting scheduled Tuesday to discuss the coming hurricane season will also include talk about preventative steps against the swine flu.

Symptoms of swine flu are fever, coughing, sore throat, headache, chills and fatigue. There have also been reports of vomiting and diarrhea.

In a Sunday news conference in Baton Rouge, Gov. Bobby Jindal also stressed prevention.

He stated in a Sunday press release that the state Office of Homeland Security has activated its Crisis Action Team, which will monitor national trends on the swine flu and any reported cases in Louisiana.

There are no confirmed cases in Louisiana.

Hospitals and physicians were notified Friday, and the Louisiana Hospital Association is tracking hospital patient volumes, assessing hospital capacities’ and working with Louisiana pharmacies to maximize the availability of antiflu drugs.

Jindal encouraged residents to see a doctor as soon as possible if they experience any of the listed flu-like symptoms.

At a Sunday news conference, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the department had declared a public health emergency.

This allows a federal stockpile of about 12 million doses of Tamiflu to be moved to places where states can quickly get their shares, with priority given to the five states with known cases.

Jindal said 669,000 antiviral doses are earmarked for Louisiana, and should be shipped within seven days.

Until then, he said Louisiana has 370,443 Tamiflu treatments and 94,360 Relenza treatments in the state stockpile.

There are also 64,000 pediatric antiviral doses stockpiled in the state.

As of Sunday, the World Health Organization had 20 lab-confirmed human cases of the H1N1 swine influenza in the U.S., according to a press release.

Eight were in in New York; seven in California; two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio.

There were no deaths and one brief hospitalization.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a news teleconference Sunday that the seasonal vaccine has no affect on this strain of the virus, but treatments with drugs such as Tamiflu have proved successful.


April 27, 2009 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment