Grayson Co. Health Dept. H1N1 Influenza Update - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Grayson Co. Health Dept. H1N1 Influenza Update

Posted:

From news release:

Steve Devore, Director
Wayne Bell, M.D.,  Medical Director and Grayson County Health Authority  

HEALTH AUTHORITY STATEMENT:
H1N1 Influenza Update

The following information has been gathered from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Texas Department of State Health Services.  The Grayson County Health Department and Grayson County's Health Authority is working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Governor's Division of Emergency Management, as well as the Grayson County Emergency Management Office.

No confirmed cases of the new H1N1 flu virus have been reported in Grayson County.  U.S. health officials are no longer recommending that schools close because of H1N1 flu.  The government last week advised schools to shut down for about two weeks if there were suspected cases of H1N1 flu. Hundreds of schools around the country have followed that guidance and closed schools.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday, May 5, 2009, that the H1N1 flu virus had turned out to be milder than initially feared and the government decided to change its advice. Sebelius says parents should still make sure to keep sick children at home. Those with flu-like symptoms should stay home for seven days.  The number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases in the United States is now over 400, with hundreds more probable cases.  As of May 5, 2009, there have been 41 laboratory confirmed human cases of H1N1 flu in Texas.  A total of 403 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including the states of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The lists of states as well as the number of confirmed cases are updated daily at 11:00 AM at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.  Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with the H1N1 influenza virus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on April 29, 2009 that a 22-month old Texas toddler became the first confirmed H1N1 death within the United States.  The 22-month-old boy, from Mexico City, had several underlying health problems and had traveled with his family to visit relatives in Texas. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning recommending that people should avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. 

Influenza is always serious - each year, in the United States, seasonal influenza results, on average, in an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths from flu related causes.  The CDC expects that we will see more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths from this outbreak of H1N1 flu.  This outbreak certainly poses the potential to be at least as serious as seasonal flu if not more so.  Because this is a new virus, most people will not have immunity to it.  Therefore, the illness may be more severe and widespread as a result.  Internationally, more countries are reporting cases of infection with this new virus.

Symptoms of H1N1 flu in people are similar to those of regular or seasonal flu and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing.  Some with H1N1 have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  To date, most Texas patients with confirmed cases are young; almost 90% are under 18 years of age. The symptoms most commonly reported have been fever (100% and a median of 102.5), cough (95%), and sore throat (61%), and about half have reported nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. At this time the Grayson County Health Department is not testing patients for influenza.  You should contact your doctor if you have fever>100°F and cough and/or sore throat.  Please remember its allergy season and many individuals may be experiencing runny noses, sore throats and coughs. 

It is important to understand that if an individual receives a positive Influenza A test result from their doctor, it does not necessarily mean the individual is infected with the new H1N1 flu virus.  Patients with a positive Influenza A test result may just have the seasonal flu.  Only the Texas Department of State Health Services Laboratory can determine if a positive Influenza A test result is the seasonal flu or a non-sub-typeable Influenza A.  If the test result is non-subtypeable at the Texas Department of State Health Services Laboratory, it then becomes a probable case and the sample is sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for final evaluation.  Only the CDC can make the determination if the non-subtypeable Influenza A positive test sample is the new H1N1.  The CDC makes the final determination.  To date, 99 percent of "probable" cases sent to the CDC by state health laboratories have been confirmed cases of the new H1N1 flu virus.

The Federal Government is mounting an aggressive response to this outbreak.  The CDC is issuing updated interim guidance daily in response to this rapidly evolving situation. This includes updated interim guidance for clinicians on how to identify and care for people who are sick with the new H1N1 flu.  The CDC's goals during this public health emergency are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to assist health care providers, public health officials and the public in addressing the challenges posed by this newly identified influenza virus. This new H1N1 flu virus is spreading from person-to-person without regard to borders, race or ethnicity.  However, children have been more likely to be infected with the H1N1 virus compared to older adults.  Children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and weakened immune systems, and people over 65 years and older are at high risk for serious complications from seasonal flu and it would not be surprising to find a pattern where they also are at high risk of serious complications from this new virus.  Individuals should take precautions; be aware of warning signs; and seek medical care sooner rather than later.  In addition, distribution of antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices from CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to all 50 states and U.S. territories continues.  The Strategic National Stockpile has 49.9 million regimens of antiviral drugs. Laboratory testing on these viruses so far indicate that they are susceptible (sensitive) to the antiviral drugs in our nations stockpile. Influenza antiviral drugs are an important weapon in our arsenal against influenza. The SNS deployment includes approximately 11 million antiviral regimens, masks, N95 respirators, gowns, gloves and face shields.

Currently, there is not a vaccine available to protect against this virus, but the CDC has begun the process of developing a vaccination.  However, two influenza antiviral medications are recommended for use against H1N1 virus. These are oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu ®) and zanamivir (Relenza ®).  Influenza antiviral drugs work best when started soon after illness onset (within two 2 days), but treatment with antiviral drugs should still be considered after 48 hours of symptom onset, particularly for hospitalized patients or people at high risk for influenza-related complications.

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend communities, businesses, places of worship, schools, and individuals all take action to slow the spread of this new H1N1 flu virus.  Everyone should follow standard precautions to reduce the spread of any respiratory illness. You have a role in protecting yourself and your family.

  • Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.  The CDC believes that this virus is spread in the same manner as the seasonal flu virus.  With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick.  Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.    
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues. 
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • Practice other good health habits.
  • If a child has a fever, do not give the child aspirin or any product containing aspirin.
  • Get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • If you don't have one yet, consider developing a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of extra food, medicines, facemasks and other essential supplies.

Stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available. Visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu

For additional information visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu and http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/swineflu

Department of State Health Services Guidelines for General Public Guidance: 1-888-777-5320

Grayson County Health Department contact for Schools and Clinicians: 903-893-0131 ext. 243

Media Contact for Grayson County Health Department: 903-465-2878 ext.243

Media Contact for Grayson County Office of Emergency Management: 903-814-7866

Updates will be released as new information is received.