Deyanira Del Rio knows that her supervisors at the Las Vegas air conditioning firm where she works are taking the swine flu outbreak seriously.
"I was sent home Monday because I had a fever, a cough and a sore throat," she said after her appointment Tuesday at a University Medical Center Quick Care in Spring Valley. "They didn't want me possibly spreading swine flu to our technicians or customers."
Dr. Cory Russell found that the 21-year-old dispatcher and receptionist was suffering from a sinus infection.
"I'm glad that's all it was," Del Rio said. "I'm getting two antibiotics and can go back to work Wednesday (today)."
The reaction to Del Rio's symptoms was the kind of serious response that the acting chief of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested Nevadans take Tuesday as the swine flu outbreak escalates in the United States.
"If you're sick, don't go to work or out in the community," Dr. Richard Besser said during a telephone conference briefing of Nevada government officials and media that was hosted by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Besser emphasized that Americans must step up precautions against spreading the disease despite the fact that swine flu cases in this country have been mild so far compared with those in Mexico.
"We are going to see deaths" from the swine flu virus in the United States, Besser said from his Atlanta office to the Nevada contingent. It was the same dire prediction he made earlier in the day in another news conference.
Flu deaths aren't new in the United States. Each year in the 1990s, according to the CDC, 36,000 people died of flu-related symptoms.
What troubles health experts with this particular strain of flu virus is that nobody knows how people are going to react to it.
Although no confirmed cases of swine flu have been found in Nevada, Russell said he is seeing many more Quick Care patients who want their flulike symptoms checked out.
"People are definitely being more careful," he said. "But flu cases have actually been pretty benign here this year."
Danita Cohen, a spokeswoman for the University Medical Center, said Quick Cares in the Las Vegas Valley are seeing about 30 percent more patients than usual with flulike symptoms.
Besser said scientists continue to be mystified as to why swine flu cases have been so much more numerous and severe in Mexico than in the United States.
"There's more that we don't know than what we know," he said.
In Mexico, the virus is suspected in more than 150 deaths and nearly 2,500 illnesses.
The CDC reported Tuesday that there were 68 confirmed cases of the influenza strain, with "a number of hospitalizations," in the United States.
Del Rio said that although she thinks her employer did the right thing by sending her home, she also thinks that many employers and workers are going to be reluctant in today's tough economy to take the same measures.
"Businesses are short-handed," she said. "And many people aren't paid when they don't work, so it's very hard for them to stay off the job."
Reid predicted Tuesday that President Barack Obama's request for $1.5 billion in emergency funds to help build antiviral drug stockpiles will be easily passed by Congress.
And health officials reported receiving a large volume of calls in Nevada about medication, including the prescribed antiviral Tamiflu.
Martha Framsted, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said that although she has repeatedly informed people that there is plenty of Tamiflu should it be needed, she said she didn't know what to say recently when a man asked whether he should get a swine flu booster shot.
When a swine flu outbreak occurred in the United States during the 1970s, a vaccine was created that actually did more harm than good. The vaccination killed and paralyzed more people than the flu itself and was taken off the market.
"I told the man there is no swine flu booster shot and asked the man if it (the vaccine) made him sick, and he said just a little," Framsted recalled.
During his conversation with Nevada media, Besser said that though no final decision has been made to create another swine flu vaccine, improvements in vaccine manufacturing would cut down on any dangers to those who are vaccinated.
Del Rio said she thinks the information disseminated by health officials is helping Americans prevent an outbreak on the scale of Mexico's.
But that doesn't mean she has peace of mind.
"I have many family members in Mexico," she said. "My parents have been trying to get in contact with them. We're very worried."
Contact reporter Paul Harasim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2908.