DATE: June 30, 2009, 7:30 PM
From: S. Todd Stolp M.D., Tuolumne County Health Officer
RE: First Tuolumne County Case of Novel H1N1 Influenza
On June 30, 2009, a pediatric patient was the first person in Tuolumne County to be diagnosed with the Novel H1N1 Influenza.
This local resident is recovering well.The development of local cases of Novel H1N1 Influenza, formerly known as the “swine flu,” has been expected. While this is the first case to be formerly diagnosed, monitoring of illness throughout California and in our local region over the past several weeks has indicated that the Novel H1N1 Influenza has continued to circulate through the population. At the same time, seasonal influenza strains have essentially disappeared. This tendency for the new virus to linger beyond the usual flu season is characteristic of pandemic virus strains.
Like most patients, the local patient developed symptoms of “influenza-like illness” and sought medical care. Influenza-like illness consists of respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat and congestion) and a fever of 100º or higher.
The Novel H1N1 Influenza continues to be a relatively mild illness for most people. However, some groups are at higher risk of complications, and should therefore take special precautions to seek health care if an influenza-like illness develops. People who are at higher risk of complications include people over 65 years of age, people under 5 years of age, people with chronic health conditions like heart disease or treatment for cancer, people with weakened immune systems, people with obesity and pregnant patients.
The Health Department has continued to share information with local health care providers about the progress of this pandemic. It is not necessary that every person with an influenza-like illness go to a clinic to be seen unless there are signs of significant illness, like shortness of breath, pain with breathing, pale or bluish color around the mouth or face, persistent diarrhea or vomiting, or if the patient becomes confused. A phone call to your health care provider can help you decide if you should be seen, or if you should simply stay home and rest. It is expected that recommendations for testing and treatment of Novel H1N1 Influenza will change as the pandemic evolves. This new information will be shared when such changes are called for.
Each person should take steps to avoid providing an opportunity for the virus to travel between people. These precautions include:
- proper hand washing with soap and water, using alcohol hand gels if they are available
- cough into the inside of your elbow to cover your cough if you must cough or sneeze,
- stay home from work or school if you develop a respiratory illness to avoid sharing your germs. If you are diagnosed with Novel H1N1 Influenza, you should avoid returning to work or school until after 7 days from the beginning of your illness or until 24 hours after your symptoms have disappeared, whichever happens last.
- dispose of used tissues properly
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, since these locations are choice neighborhoods for the influenza virus.