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H1N1 swine flu continues in Spokane

New cases show H1N1 swine influenza continuing in Spokane Regional Health District announces new communication plans

Spokane, WA-Spokane Regional Health District has received test results indicating five new cases of H1N1 swine influenza during the past week, demonstrating that the virus is present in the area. Because testing of potential cases has been substantially reduced in Washington State, it is likely that there are more cases than test result numbers would suggest.

 Because tested cases represent only a fraction of likely cases, public notification of the positive test results does not offer significant benefit in reducing the spread of the virus. For that reason, the Health District has changed its practice of issuing press releases and health advisories for individual new cases. The District will post a weekly total of confirmed cases on its website www.srhd.org/swineflu. If outbreaks of the virus occur in specific settings such as camps, childcare centers or institutions, the Health District will work with the facility to notify those who may have been exposed.

 "We know that there is H1N1 activity that is going undetected locally and that we will likely see the virus spread," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. "It is crucial for people who are sick to stay away from others, and that means staying home from work or school for seven days or until they no longer have symptoms, whichever is longer."

 Although the virus is primarily causing mild to moderate symptoms, serious symptoms can occur. The Health District is stressing the importance of people taking simple actions to stop the spread of germs, including washing hands often, covering coughs with your sleeves not your hands, and staying home from work or school if ill. Parents are being asked to keep their children home from school if they have a fever, cough, headache, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting.

 Dr. McCullough stresses that for most people who catch the H1N1 swine flu virus, symptoms can be managed at home through proper hydration and fever reduction. People should contact their health care provider by phone if they have serious symptoms such as high fever (102F), difficulty breathing, or other symptoms which would normally cause a person to seek medical care.

 As the symptoms are often mild, people may not know they have it and will not seek medical care, so getting an accurate number of local cases will continue to be more difficult. The focus has shifted away from testing all people with influenza like symptoms to testing those who have serious symptoms.

 The Spokane Regional Health District has begun planning for the upcoming influenza season, including for the possibility that this virus will continue into the flu season and/or will slow over the summer and return in the fall, along with the seasonal flu.

 As more human cases of (H1N1) swine influenza A virus infection are identified in the United States and internationally, the Spokane Regional Health District continues to work closely with other public health agencies and community partners.

 For updated and reliable information visit the following websites:

International World Health Organization

National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

State of Washington Washington State Department of Health

Spokane County Spokane Regional Health District (visit "In the News")                ####

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July 29, 2014