• By Tim Monroe
  • Posted Friday, June 26, 2009

First H1N1 Cases in Forsyth County

Two cases of laboratory confirmed influenza caused by the novel H1N1 (Swine) influenza virus strain have been identified by the Forsyth County Department of Public Health within the last 24 hours. Health Department employees are currently investigating both cases; however, there is no early evidence that the two cases are related or that either poses a risk of transmission to high risk populations. If it is determined by the investigation that there are potentially exposed persons with risk factors for complications from influenza, those persons will be contacted by the public health system individually.

Several cases have been reported in adjacent counties in recent days. Although these are the first laboratory confirmed cases in Forsyth, public health officials have been advising the public and health care providers to assume that the virus is present in all NC communities for several weeks. Confirmatory testing at the state laboratory is for purposes of systematically monitoring the spread of the virus through the population; not for purposes of diagnosing individual cases or for finding every case in a community. Such an infection does spread through the population from locality to locality, and it is not unusual to see multiple cases in one community before seeing any in a nearby community.

Infection with the novel H1N1 virus does not appear to be any more severe than infection with the seasonal flu viruses we encounter each flu season. The recommendations to the public and to health care providers do not change with the appearance of confirmed cases. Individuals who develop respiratory symptoms with fever should not attend school, summer camps, work, or other public gatherings for seven full days after the beginning of symptoms or for 24 hours after the last symptoms, which ever is longer. Health care providers who evaluate patients with such symptoms should emphasize these restrictions to them. Individuals who are concerned that they may have been exposed to a person with influenza should monitor themselves for respiratory symptoms and fever, and follow the same guidelines if those symptoms develop. Individuals should contact their physician if they are concerned that their symptoms are unusually severe or if they are concerned that they may be at risk of complications from influenza infection. Decisions as to whether to treat patients with flu symptoms or patients possibly exposed to influenza should be made in consultation with a personal physician.

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