U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of May 5, 2009, 11:00 AM ET)
Federal health officials today reported Washington state’s first confirmed cases of A(H1N1) swine flu — seven in King County, one in Snohomish County and one in Spokane County.
“The CDC tells us that 99 percent of probable samples tested are confirmed positive, so this is no surprise,” said Washington’s Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. “As the disease investigation progresses, it appears this new flu strain is similar to seasonal flu in symptoms, treatment, and spread.”
Paula Adams with WSU Health & Wellness, said that clinic “has not seen any suspected cases of swine flu here, and we haven’t sent any samples out for testing.”
Whitman County Department of Public Health said that it sent two samples out for testing last week that both proved negative for Influenza A (H1N1). And there are no other probable cases at this time.
State health officials are working closely with local health partners and the CDC to respond to the outbreak, track the spread of the disease, and develop prevention strategies.
According to local health officials, the nine people with confirmed cases are all recovering.
As state’s labs continue to receive samples from local health for testing, and more confirmed cases are likely.
“We expect most of the probable cases in our state to be confirmed, as they have in other states,” said Selecky.
“We’ve been learning every day as we respond to this new strain of influenza, and we’re adjusting strategy as we go. For example, many local health leaders have adjusted their policies on reducing exposures in schools, asking anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness to stay home rather than closing an entire school.”
The national count for cases of A(H1N1) swine flu today climbed to 403, according to an 8 am. report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — up from 141 on Friday and 286 on Monday.
The CDC expects that “more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths from this outbreak will occur over the coming days and weeks,” particularly as states are equipped to conduct more testing.
By comparison, each year in the United States, an average of 36,000 people die, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from serious flu-related complications, according to the CDC..
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) daily report noted that 21 countries have officially reported 1,124 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. More than half of the laboratory confirmed cases, 590, have been reported in Mexico, including 25 deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths — Austria (1), Canada (140), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Costa Rica (1), Colombia (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (4), Germany (8), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (6), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (1), Spain (54), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (18).
No travel, but caution
WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus: “Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts of the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.”
Because the virus has already spread to much of the world, WHO officials say the focus is now on “minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally.”
Although identifying the signs and symptoms of influenza in travelers can be an effective monitoring technique, WHO contends that it is “not effective in reducing the spread of influenza as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms.” Scientific research based on mathematical modeling indicates that restricting travel will be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease.
General Safety Measures
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the used tissue in the trash.
* Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners should also be used between hand-washings.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
* Try to avoid close contact with those who are ill. Maintain a distance of three feet whenever possible.
* Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through the coughing or sneezing of infected people.
* If you become ill, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that you stay home from work or school and limit your contact with others.
Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans, and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases, not only influenza A(H1N1).
Dr. Tim Moody, Whitman County’s health officer noted in a local update that, “WHO will probably move the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 fairly soon (Phase 6 is the highest alert level indicating that we are in a global pandemic). This change will be due to recognized multi-continent geographic spread of this new virus and is not based on severity of disease. We need to get that message out.”
There is no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products.