Flu update: 6 more potential cases in King County

May 2, 2009 8:17 pm
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 |   Health | Swine flu

The daily update from King County Public Health came in a little while ago, so for everyone following the saga, the latest is: Six more potential cases, one of which was already suspected – three from Seattle: a 12-year-old and 14-year-old who haven’t been hospitalized, and an 80-year-old who has been, but is now out of the hospital. Read on for more details in the official news release:

Today, six probable cases of H1N1 virus (swine flu) have been identified in King County through the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. Five of these cases are new; one of the six had already been reported and designated as a probable King County case due to symptoms and contact with a previous case.

The number of probable cases in King County is now 16, including 15 identified through laboratory testing. 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.

“Now that we know that the virus is circulating more widely in our community, we expect to see our numbers continue to increase, at least for a while,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director & Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “But because much of the disease caused by this virus is mild, some cases may be going undiagnosed and increasingly these official case counts will underestimate the incidence of infection in our community.”

As the virus becomes more common, Public Health is recommending new steps to help reduce future infections in schools. “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 establish health checks at school entry, so that sick students are identified and sent home before they expose other children.”

Public Health has established 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. The Flu Hotline provides health and safety information on the current Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak. If you need medical advice, contact your healthcare provider.

Current case counts and future updates will be posted on the Public Health website at www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu.

Recommendations for seeking medical care

Some local hospitals and health care providers are reporting that many people are unnecessarily going to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with mild symptoms. In terms of seeking 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. Your health care provider will determine if a test is appropriate, based on guidelines from Public Health.

If you need care and do not have a medical provider or health insurance, call the Community Health Access Program at 800-756-5437. You will not be asked to show proof of your immigration status.

New cases

Public Health is currently learning more about these individuals with probable H1N1 virus infections, and investigating if any schools were affected. This school attendance information is not yet known. The cases include:

o An 80 year old woman from Seattle, who was hospitalized and discharged.

o A 12 year old female from Lake Forest Park; not hospitalized.

o A 14 year old female from Seattle; not hospitalized.

o A 7 year old male from Auburn; not hospitalized.

o A 15 year old male from Kent; not hospitalized.

o A 12 year old male from Seattle; not hospitalized – previously reported by King County as a probable case due to symptoms and contact with a probable lab-identified case.

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.

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.

Public Health is 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.

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

For more information and frequent updates: www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Flu Hotline: 877-903-5464

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