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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2009

CONTACT
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

Note: Sound bites on this topic will be available later at: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/audio.aspx

Nebraska has Two New Probable Cases of H1N1 Flu

Lincoln—Two new probable cases of H1N1 (swine-origin) influenza have been identified in Nebraska, according to Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The first case of H1N1 was confirmed on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control.

The new probable cases are a woman in her fifties from Sarpy County and a boy in the age range of 5-18 from Scotts Bluff County. The woman has been discharged from a hospital. Both she and the boy are recovering.

“As you can see, we have H1N1 from Sarpy County in the eastern part of the state to Scotts Bluff County in the western part of the state,” Dr. Schaefer said. “It’s very clear that this virus is in Nebraska. For every one case we identify, there is an untold number that is undetected, which is typical for every infectious disease we investigate.”

Local health departments are investigating the two probable cases to determine and track contacts. Close contacts are offered antivirals to prevent the illness.(For a list of local health departments: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/puh_oph_lhd.aspx)

“Specimens from the probable cases are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be confirmed,” Dr. Schaefer said. “There are now seven probables that are pending testing there. Some may be ruled out as H1N1. But I expect that most of them will be H1N1, matching this outbreak.”

Today there are also 28 specimens pending preliminary testing at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory.

“Again, I urge perspective in this outbreak. We are watching this closely and we are asking Nebraskans in general, and particularly health care practitioners, to pay attention as things may change, but not be alarmed,” Dr. Schaefer said.

DHHS is releasing information about specimens that are either at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory pending testing, that have been sent to the CDC for confirmation, or have been confirmed.

Today DHHS is reporting yesterday’s pending tests and results:

*Pending public health tests: 28

**New probable cases: 2 Sarpy County (1), Scotts Bluff County (1)

***Confirmed cases: 0

The CDC has confirmed one case of H1N1 here in Nebraska.

Five additional probables are pending confirmatory testing at the CDC, for a total of seven.

Advice

If you are moderately to severely ill with a cough, sore throat, fever and body aches (and perhaps vomiting and diarrhea), call your physician. First call the physician’s office and tell staff what symptoms you are experiencing. The physician may want to see you separately from other patients so that you don’t expose them in the waiting room. Your doctor can prescribe an antiviral for you, which will ease your symptoms and possibly shorten the duration of your illness.

For any flu-like illness:

    • People who are sick should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the virus.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or otherwise appear ill.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
    • Wash hands frequently.


For more information, see the DHHS web site: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/flu.aspx

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NOTE: Numbers of cases will be released by 9:00 a.m. A news release will be sent out and the numbers will be listed on the DHHS Web site on Sunday. There will be no afternoon news conferences on the weekend. Dr. Schaefer will be available for quick media updates by calling Marla Augustine at (402) 471-4047 or cell (402) 416-9388 before 2 p.m.

*Counties of residence will not be given for pending tests.

**The definition of a probable case is a case that has tested positive for influenza A and is not seasonal flu. The specimen will be sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing

***The definition of a confirmed case is one that the CDC has determined is a case of H1N1 influenza. There will be a daily confirmed and a cumulative confirmed number.