Last night, we covered the developing story of three “probable” Seattle swine-flu cases. While there is no specific “West Seattle angle” at this point, we plan to include major area developments here at WSB, knowing this is one of the places you come for news. Right now, our plan is to start with one story – today, this one – that will be updated throughout the day with what’s new, whenever there’s something more major to add. We start with:
THURSDAY MORNING: Seattle Public Schools has announced Madrona K-8, attended by one of the patients with a “probable” case, will close until next Thursday to be on the safe side. Here is the SPS announcement, including a message to all district families.
ALSO THURSDAY MORNING: The Everett Clinic is talking with reporters right now about the pediatrician who lives in Seattle and works at their Mill Creek clinic and was identified last night as one of the “probable” cases. They say she saw 22 patients on Monday and they are notifying them all. The doctor and her family, who also showed some flu symptoms, are all said to be “doing well.” Here is the clinic’s news release.
THURSDAY, 11:21 AM: Pathfinder K-8 has postponed tonight’s Multi-Cultural Night until May 21 as a school-initiated decision to be “proactive.” Separate story here.
THURSDAY, 4:47 PM: More new probable cases announced in King County – here’s a Seattle Times roundup.
Information resources (we’ll add more, and let us know if you have something to recommend):
Seattle/King County Public Health swine-flu page
CDC (federal) swine-flu page
Fast-breaking CDC updates via Twitter
State Department of Health swine-flu page
Any other Seattle/King County swine-flu news announced today will be added here, unless there’s something WS-specific, in which case we’ll publish a new, separate story.
7:02 PM THURSDAY: Here’s the news release about the additional probable cases announced today, and additional school closures (NOT in West Seattle):
Seven additional people with probable swine flu (H1N1) in King County
So far, flu strain apparently no more severe than in a typical flu season
KING COUNTY, WA – Today, another seven probable cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, have been identified in King County . This brings the total number of probable swine flu cases in King County to ten. Laboratory samples have been sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health – Seattle & King County is awaiting final confirmation.
“In the United States, what we’re seeing so far is that the severity of these cases is no more than what would be seen in a typical flu season. At the same time, we have limited experience, so it’s important not to draw premature conclusions. It’s important that we continue to learn and monitor activity in the community,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director & Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County.
Public Health is also reporting that school absenteeism in King County is normal for this time of year. In addition, emergency department surveillance at King County hospitals did detect an increase in visits beginning Sunday, April 26th, coinciding with the increased swine flu publicity; however, local hospitals are not reporting an increase in serious illnesses or hospital admissions related to respiratory illness.
The five new probable H1N1 flu cases in King County include two children under 5 years of age; two children between 5-12 years, and a 22-year-old woman. In addition, two elementary school-aged children that are linked to a probable case were classified as suspect cases.
Human cases of swine influenza virus infection also have been identified nationally and internationally.
Out of an abundance of caution, Public Health has worked jointly with Seattle Public Schools and Federal Way Schools to decide the best course of action is to close the schools involved for seven days. The schools include Madrona K-8, which was closed today and will open again on March 7. Seattle’s Aki Kurose Middle School and Stevens Elementary K-8 in Seattle and Woodmont Elementary in Federal Way will close tomorrow, and these schools are scheduled to re-open on May 8.
The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
When should you seek medical care?
Use the same judgment you would use during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and if you need to be evaluated.
Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.
If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required: runny nose or nasal stuffiness; low-grade fever for less than 3 days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.
What can I do now to get prepared?
This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a possible influenza pandemic. See www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Everyday behaviors to stay healthy and prevent spread of influenza
o If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
o To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
o Avoid close contact with sick people
What is swine flu?
“Swine flu” is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called “swine flu,” it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
For more information and frequent updates: www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Public Health Hotline: 206-296-4949