First Posted: 7/19/2009
DOBSON Though Surry County still has only one confirmed case of swine flu, or H1N1, local health officials say the disease will not be disappearing anytime soon.
What weve seen is kind of a steady pace, not a frantic pace, but we still have numbers that indicate that H1N1 is not going anywhere, its going to be here for awhile, county Health and Nutrition Center spokesman Thomas Williams said.
Eighty-four new cases of the illness were reported in North Carolina last week alone, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state so far to 395, including two deaths in Guilford County.
While Williams said that Surry has only the one official case, another recently was confirmed in Yadkin County and the swine flu remains a top concern, especially for the coming months.
We are gearing up for the fall, the local health department spokesman said. Were not exactly sure what H1N1 may do. Some throughout the nation thought that it would level off and die out and then come back with a vengeance in the fall.
It is believed that the exposure rate to swine flu virus will increase around the time regular seasonal flu activity surfaces as it does every year.
So were just gearing up, Williams added of the expected upturn that will coincide with the reopening of schools for the 2009-10 term. Weve been in the process of talking to all of our school systems to see what types of plans they have, to help with their planning for the fall.
School-age children and young adults seem to be most susceptible to swine flu, while there is a possibility persons over 50 could have some immunity to the H1N1 strain.
As part of their preparations, Surry health officials also will be stocking up medication to treat those cases that occur.
Were just waiting on the vaccine that federal officials say should be in widespread distribution by the fall, Williams said. From all indications, it will be two vaccines. One will be an initial vaccine given to the patient, with the second a booster given later on, according to the local spokesman.
Were waiting to see how the federal government plans to roll all that out.
Williams also acknowledged that there could be other cases in the county which simply havent been diagnosed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said that testing to confirm H1N1 exposure should not be done unless a person has been hospitalized with an influenza-like illness or meets other case definitions, such as being at high risk for complications. That includes infants, the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with chronic illnesses.
For those who believe they might possibly have swine flu, were still encouraging them to seek the advice of their medical provider and let the doctor tend to them and make a determination as to what needs to be done, Williams said.
There may be some cases out there that we just really arent aware of because of the current case definition, Williams said.
But we encourage anyone who feels sickly to go to their physician.
The one swine flu exposure locally, which was confirmed through a laboratory, was a mild case. As of last week, the person stricken was said to be still recuperating and under isolation orders.
Local health officials say that to minimize risk, people should practice hygiene to avoid the spread of germs and try to maintain good general health by being physically active, eating nutritiously and getting plenty of sleep.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.