A mock press conference during an emergency training exercise today became a real discussion about swine flu.

A mock press conference during an emergency training exercise today became a real discussion about swine flu.

State and local officials had been planning the training exercise for months, and they included press conferences in the scenario. When reporters gathered at the Jackson County Human Services building, the subject quickly turned to swine flu.

Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County's medical officer, said scientists should know much more about the influenza outbreak in several days, when a clear pattern of the disease emerges. He noted that people in Mexico people have died of the virus, but those who have come down with it in the United States have been mildly ill.

"This is going to take a little time for us all to figure out," Shames said. "We really need to take a deep breath and let developments develop.

"As soon as it's clear to us what we're dealing with, we can advise people what to do," he said.

He said people should wash their hands frequently, cover their cough and stay home when they feel ill.

— Bill Kettler