H1N1 influenza update from Grayson County Department of Health
By Grayson County media department
May 1, 2009
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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.

As of May 1, 2009 at 11:00 AM, there have been 28 laboratory confirmed human cases of H1N1 flu in Texas.  A total of 141 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.  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.  No confirmed cases have been reported in Grayson County.  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. Monday, 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 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.  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.

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.

The Federal Government is mounting an aggressive response to this outbreak.  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. Young children and pregnant women 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.

The CDC has developed a real-time RT-PCR (rapid test) Detection Panel to expand and maintain the operational capabilities of public health or other qualified laboratories by providing a detection tool for the presumptive presence of this influenza A /H1N1 flu virus. Today this diagnostic test is being distributed to states nationwide to increase their capacity to test at the state level. 

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.     

• 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.

• 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.