In what’s becoming a daily update from Seattle-King County Public Health, the latest announcement says 6 more probable cases of swine flu have been reported, bringing the total number of likely cases in the county to 22. Health authorities also have changed their recommendations for how schools should handle news of a case of this flu – read on for the latest details:
Six additional persons with probable H1N1 virus (swine flu) in King County
Flu strain continues to appear no more severe than a typical flu season, and policy for schools modified to reflect this
KING COUNTY, WA – Today, 6 more probable cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, have been identified in King County through the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. The number of probable cases in King County is now 22, including 21 that were identified through laboratory tests. 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.
Current case counts and updates will be posted later today on the Public Health website at www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu.
“We know that the H1N1 virus is circulating widely and the disease has proven to be relatively mild, so we believe that many cases are not being formally diagnosed,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director & Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “We need to find new ways to reduce infections besides focusing on diagnosed, probable cases. We will no longer recommend school closure when we have just one or two probable cases in a school. Instead, we will recommend symptom checks at home and school.”
Public Health will work closely with school districts to support this new approach to reduce infections in schools. Instead of closing a school when there is a probable case, Public Health is recommending that:
o Parents carefully check their children before school for signs and symptoms of the flu. If symptoms are present, they should not send their children to school.
o Schools should monitor children and conduct symptoms checks. If they find children with symptoms of the flu, those children should be sent home.
o School staff and faculty should assess themselves for symptoms of influenza.
“Our parents are at the front lines of stopping the spread of infection. We are urging all parents to assess their kids every morning to see if they’re sick, and keep them home if they are,” said Dr. Fleming. “In addition, we will be working with schools across King County to help them identify if children are ill so that sick students are sent home before they expose other children.”
Public Health has a Flu Hotline for the public at 877-903-KING (5464), staffed from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interpreters are available.
Tamiflu and treatment
There appears to be very limited demand for the antiviral drug Tamiflu to treat patients who have severe illness. However, Public Health is launching a strategy to make sure that adequate and accessible supply exists in the community for every patient with a prescription that is in need of this medication.
While there is plentiful supply of Tamiflu in King County, distribution may be slightly backlogged. Public Health will distribute Tamiflu to any hospital that requests it, and it is identifying sites throughout the county so Tamiflu can be dispensed to patients who cannot find it in their local pharmacies.
Recommendations for seeking medical care
Public Health is recommending that you 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. Your health care provider will determine if a test is appropriate, based on guidelines from Public Health.
Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters of other sick people, 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 three days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.
The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from person to person. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
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 H1N1 virus (swine flu)?
H1N1 virus, also known as “swine flu” and “swine Influenza A” is a virus that can spread from people who are infected to others through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch. H1N1 virus is not transmitted from pigs to humans or from eating pork products.
For more information and frequent updates: www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu. Flu Hotline: 877-903-5464