Flu cases in Grand County assumed to be H1N1
September 15, 2009
The Grand County Public Health Office assumes cases of influenza A in Grand County are cases of unconfirmed H1N1 viruses.
The cases are mild, Grand County Public Health officials said during a Board of Health report to Grand County commissioners on Tuesday.
As many as 12 to 24 cases of Influenza A have been reported in Grand County, they said, and are being treated like the seasonal flu. Having seasonal flu cases this time of the year is premature, they said.
“This virus has been pretty stable since spring,” said County Public Health Nurse Brene Belew-LaDue. “It is contagious, but it is not quite as deadly as we thought it was – at least right now.”
Every case of the flu cannot be tested to confirm swine flu, but “from our central data, we know that 97 percent of the cases that have been typed at the state lab are H1N1,” said Jan Carrasco, communicable disease nurse at Grand County Public Health.
For that reason, public health officials extrapolate that about nine out of 10 current flu cases are H1N1.
“The flu is acting very, very mild, except for people that have underlying conditions,” Belew-LaDue said. The virus primarily affects infants and young adults from ages 0 to 24 years. Unlike the seasonal flu, people older than age 65 years appear to have an immunity to the virus.
In West Grand Schools, a volleyball game was canceled last weekend because several players came down with the flu. Players were suspected of having contracted the flu during a multi-team volleyball tournament the previous weekend.
“We continually are looking at it to see what it’s doing,” Belew-LaDue said, “and that is what public health is doing all the time – to make sure that this isn’t mutating.”
She pointed out that seasonal viruses have the ability to mutate too.
“Or we may have a bad seasonal flu here, we don’t know.”
“There seems to be some misunderstandings about the value of testing for the flu,” said Eric Murray, spokesperson for the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District in statements released Tuesday.
“Some people mistakenly believe knowing the flu type helps with the treatment. But as the saying goes, ‘the flu is the flu, is the flu.'”
Tests take a while
Actual testing for H1N1, executed by the Centers for Disease Control and a few select labs, could take from 7-10 days to get the results back – or even longer depending on volume, Murray explained. Hospitalized patients are generally the only ones tested for the H1N1 specifically.
It is assumed that most people with the flu would recover by the time the results were available.
For this reason, most people are being told that they should keep their children with flu symptoms at home, treat them with rest, plenty of fluids, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu symptoms, health experts advise.
Most doctors recommend seeking medical care if the person with the flu symptoms show signs of dehydration; not able to keep fluids down or if their fevers can’t be controlled by acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Seek medical attention for children with the flu if they are having trouble breathing, if they have a blue color to the lips or skin, if they are not waking up or interacting, if they don’t want to be held, if their flu symptoms get better but then return with fever and worse cough, and lastly, if they have a fever with a rash.
Adults with the flu should seek medical attention if they have difficulty breathing, have pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, experience sudden dizziness, confusion or severe vomiting.
“The flu can make a person feel miserable with body aches, headaches, cough and fever,” stated Dr. Lynnette Telck of Kremmling Memorial, “and we as health care professionals truly care, but the reality is those with the flu need to let it run its course while following the recommendations for self care.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.