Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2009

CONTACT
Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047, cell (402) 416-9388 or marla.augustine@nebraska.gov

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

Three New Probable Cases of H1N1 Flu Reported Today
Strategic National Stockpile Received and Ready

Lincoln—Three new probable cases of H1N1 (swine-origin) influenza have been reported in Nebraska from Tuesday’s test results, according to Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. That brings the total to nine probable cases pending confirmation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and four confirmed Nebraska-resident cases.

The nine probable cases are likely to be confirmed, Dr. Schaefer said, because currently 99 percent of cases sent by states to the CDC for testing are confirmed.

No new cases were confirmed by the CDC yesterday. The four previously confirmed cases among Nebraska residents are from Pierce (1), Madison (1) and Sarpy (2) counties. Two additional confirmed cases that were diagnosed within Nebraska’s borders were residents of other states—California and Missouri. California and Missouri will report these two to the CDC.

Antivirals

Yesterday, about 25 DHHS employees divided up the state’s allotment from the federal Strategic National Stockpile. Over 64,700 treatment courses of antivirals were packaged into apportioned lots for each local health department based on their population. The 55 pallets took four hours to open up and repackage. The antivirals are being held in a secure, temperature-controlled location and will be deployed, if necessary, at the direction of the Chief Medical Officer. ( NOTE: Photos of the stockpile will be e-mailed upon request.)

The Nebraska State Patrol provided transportation security and the Lincoln Police Department and Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office provided site security. The Nebraska Department of Roads provided two employees and a forklift. The Office of the Chief Information Officer provided communications and IT support.

“I’m really proud of the work that state employees did so quickly to get these antivirals ready to be distributed,” Dr. Schaefer said. “Now Nebraska is in a good position to deploy the treatment courses if they are needed. Antivirals are really our first line of defense against this illness because there is no vaccine.”

In addition to the federal allotment of antivirals, the state has an additional stockpile of 45,600 courses in another secure location, which can also be deployed, if necessary. Some local health departments have their own stockpiles.

School Closures

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a change in its guidance on school closures. Rather than close schools if a student has a probable or confirmed case of H1N1, CDC now recommends implementation of measures that focus on keeping all student, faculty and staff with symptoms of influenza out of schools and child care facilities during their period of illness and recuperation, when they are potentially infectious to others.

“Because this new flu has been mostly mild to moderate here in the U.S., the CDC has determined that a case in a student should be treated like seasonal influenza, which means keeping the child out of school during their illness,” Dr. Schaefer said.

The CDC recommends the primary means to reduce spread of influenza in schools should focus on early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and good cough and hand hygiene etiquette (covering a cough or sneeze, frequently washing hands).

It is recommended to schools that students, faculty and staff who appear to have an influenza-like illness be isolated promptly in a room separate from other students and sent home.

“Students and school employees with a fever and a cough or sore throat should stay home and not go into the community except to seek medical care for at least 7 days, even if symptoms go away sooner,” Dr. Schaefer.

Nebraska has experienced several school closures.

“These closures were done out of an abundance of caution based on what the recommendations were at the time,” Dr. Schaefer said. “It was a local decision to close schools and I fully support what they did.”

DHHS is releasing information by 9:00 a.m. weekdays about specimens that are either at the CDC for confirmation or have been confirmed.

Today’s report:

*New probable cases:    3    Madison (2), Sarpy (1), all aged 5-18

**New confirmed cases: 0   

None of the new probable cases has been hospitalized. The Sarpy County case is a female. The Madison County cases are a male and female.

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.

Advice for Parents with Sick Children

Young children may not have typical symptoms, but may have difficulty breathing and be lethargic. Little is known about how H1N1 may affect children, but it may be similar to other flu infections. Typically, flu causes mild disease in children, but children under 5 years old are more likely to have serious illness than older children. Flu infections tend to be more severe in children with chronic medical conditions, like asthma, and those with compromised immune systems.

Keep your sick child at home unless they need medical attention. Have them drink plenty of liquids. Use fever-reducing medicines that your doctor recommends, but do not use aspirin with children or teenagers. It can cause Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening illness.

If your child experiences any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing;
  • Bluish or gray skin color;
  • Not drinking enough fluids;
  • Not waking up or not interacting;
  • Being so irritable that he or she does not want to be held;
  • Not urinating or no tears when crying;
  • Their symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

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. weekdays. A news release will be sent out and the numbers will be listed on the DHHS Web site. There will be no media briefing today. Media briefings will be held on an as-needed basis, pending a significant development.

*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.