Newsroom > DHHS News Release

August 12, 2009

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or


DHHS Follows CDC in Reporting H1N1

Level of flu activity to be tracked

Lincoln—The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will now begin reporting the level of H1N1 flu in the state. The number of individual cases will no longer be tracked or reported.

Reporting by level is consistent with the state’s practice for seasonal flu and with the new policies for H1N1 of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

“Because the virus is so widespread, we are adjusting the methods for tracking the spread and impact of H1N1 on the population,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer. “The feeling nationally is that because only a small portion of people with respiratory illness are tested, reporting the confirmed cases represents an underestimation of the true cases.”

To determine the level of flu in Nebraska, DHHS will rely on data generated by the 18 sentinel physicians participating in the state’s influenza surveillance system. This data will be supplemented by weekly reports of laboratory testing for influenza from 80 laboratories, reports from hospitals on the number of patients hospitalized with influenza, and reports of outbreaks in schools, nursing homes and other facilities around the state. This surveillance system will be able to detect an increase in cases.

The data will be submitted to the CDC on a weekly basis as part of the 50-state reporting system that has been utilized during every influenza season for over 15 years.

Nebraska is currently reporting a sporadic level of flu.

The CDC and WHO definitions of the levels of flu, which Nebraska will use, are defined as:

  • No activity—no lab-confirmed cases and no reported increase in the number of cases of influenza-like illness;
  • Sporadic—small numbers of lab-confirmed cases or a single lab-confirmed outbreak has been reported, but there is no increase in cases of influenza-like illness;
  • Local—outbreaks or increases of influenza-like illness cases and recent lab-confirmed flu in a single region of the state;
  • Regional—outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness and recent lab-confirmed flu in at least two but less than half of the regions of the state;
  • Widespread—outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like cases and recent lab-confirmed influenza in at least half the regions of the state.

Check the DHHS Web site for updated information on H1N1 at For more information about CDC’s H1N1 monitoring system, go to .

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