Payne County Health Department Medical Director, Gene Hoyt, M.D., announced today that a case of 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus has been confirmed in Oklahoma.
“The patient, a resident of Pontotoc County, is an adult female who did not require hospitalization and is expected to make a full recovery. The patient did recently travel to Mexico,” Hoyt said.
“Payne County residents should not be alarmed,” Hoyt emphasized. “State and local public health officials have been monitoring this case to limit exposure to others while confirmatory test results were pending from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals who have been in contact with the patient are being interviewed and will be tested if necessary.”
The symptoms of H1N1 influenza are similar to seasonal influenza and include fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Physicians in Payne County who have patients with these symptoms and have traveled to Mexico or an affected area should send nasal and throat specimens to the state’s Public Health Laboratory for analysis.
“The virus is spread person-to-person, not by eating pork or pork products,” Hoyt said. “There is no vaccine to prevent this new flu and the current flu vaccine used to prevent seasonal influenza will not provide protection against H1N1 flu.”
Payne County residents who experience flu-like symptoms should contact their physician. Some antiviral drugs may be used to treat persons at high risk of complications from the disease. Health officials caution that aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Instead, use medications such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and muscle aches associated with the flu. The use of aspirin in children has been associated with Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal disease in children, causing harmful effects to many organs, including the brain and liver.
The Payne County Health Department is working very closely with area hospitals, medical providers, emergency responders, local school districts and universities to develop a coordinated response system. The local public health response team is busy preparing in the event cases do emerge in Payne County. The group has taken the following actions in response to the recent outbreak of H1N1 Flu.
• Ensure all area hospitals, physician offices and medical clinics have up-to-date 2009 H1N1Flu Testing and Treatment Guidelines as directed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
• Ensure availability of testing materials and supplies.
• Distribute information to local school districts and daycares to monitor for Influenza Signs and Symptoms.
• Develop local reporting system of potential cases.
• Distribute educational materials to the public on how to protect yourself against the flu.
In addition, the Health Department reminds the public to continue to practice these recommendations to prevent the spread of influenza:
• Wash hands often to protect yourself from germs.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are often spread when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or “sneeze into your sleeve.”
• If you are sick, stay home from work, school, and running errands. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) issues general information and guidance on the status of the 2009 H1N1 Influenza outbreak in Oklahoma. A phone bank has been set up from 8am-8pm for persons with questions about H1N1 flu. The toll free number is 1-866-278-7134. Additional information on influenza is available by visiting the OSDH web site at www.health.ok.gov and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/swineflu or by calling your local county health department at (405) 372-8200 or (918) 225-3377.