Three new cases of infection with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus were identified in Kansas over the weekend, bringing the total count of confirmed and probable cases in the state to six.
“Presumptively confirmed” means that while tests performed at the state public health laboratory have indicated the presence of the epidemic strain, the results have not yet been verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Friday the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) had announced a probable case in a hospitalized patient in Johnson County. Results of confirmatory testing on that patient at the state lab were inconclusive, and further tests at CDC are still pending.
In each of the four new cases, local health departments are following the same guidance provided by KDHE as when dealing with a confirmed case. This includes a thorough case investigation and management of the patient and close contacts.
“I am not surprised to see additional cases in Kansas,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of the Division of Health at KDHE. “But the distribution of new cases is revealing. It tells us that the virus has probably entered the state on multiple occasions from multiple sources.”
He noted that until the Wyandotte County case was presumptively confirmed late yesterday, all cases in the state had been associated with travel to areas with known transmission of the virus.
“The child in the Wyandotte County case had not recently traveled away from the Kansas City metro area, or come into contact with anyone who had been to an area known to be affected by the epidemic,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “This suggests that the virus may be getting a foothold in that area.”
Two of the four new cases have been hospitalized because of their illness.
“Such cases indicate that there is a wide spectrum of disease caused by this virus,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “Not all cases of this flu are as mild as we had hoped.”
As of Monday morning, Kansas has identified the following cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus:
Two cases involving two adults residing in the same household in Dickinson County. Neither of the patients was hospitalized. One of the patients had recently traveled to Mexico. These confirmed cases were announced on April 25.
One case involving an adult in Johnson County with travel to Mexico. The patient is currently hospitalized.
One case involving an adult who is a Texas resident but is visiting Johnson County. The patient has not been hospitalized.
One case involving a child in Sedgwick County who traveled out-of-state to an area of known transmission where he/she was presumably exposed to the virus.
One case involving a child in Wyandotte County. The patient was hospitalized, but has since been discharged and has fully recovered.
“I encourage all Kansans to stay informed and take common-sense steps to reduce their risk of infection,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “I can’t stress enough that people who are ill should stay home and give themselves time to get well. This will go a long way to stop the spread of this disease.”
KDHE is continuing to work with local health departments and other healthcare providers to identify cases in Kansas and interrupt the chain of virus transmission wherever it is found.
The symptoms of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include:
· Fever greater than 100 degrees
· Body aches
· Sore throat
· Respiratory congestion
· In some cases, diarrhea and vomiting
Individuals who experience the above symptoms should contact their health care provider, who will determine whether testing or treatment is needed. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, but there are effective treatments available once the infection is diagnosed.
As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce spread:
· Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to co-workers and friends.
· Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.
· Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.
It is important to know that the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus is not transmitted by food. You cannot get this virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe.
KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus. The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317. Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.
Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov. Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.