Thursday, San Juan Basin Health Department reported the first confirmed case of the H1N1 Flu (swine flu) in La Plata County. This first case involves a female in her 20s. She is recovering at home until all symptoms are resolved. This individual had just returned from Mexico when she became ill. The health department has already followed up with close contacts of the individual to see if there are any sign of illness. None have flu symptoms at this time. San Juan Basin Health will continue monitoring these contacts.
“We had fully expected to identify H1N1 cases locally,” said Joe Fowler, RN, epidemiologist for San Juan Basin Health. There are now 896 confirmed cases in 41 states and 26 cases in Colorado in nine counties.
“We’re still not seeing an unusual severity of illness or numbers of people being hospitalized. Fortunately, that was the case with this individual as well,” said Fowler. “This case does not change San Juan Basin Health Department’s approach to the outbreak as we will continue to stay closely connected with our local partners in both monitoring the situation and providing guidance.”.
There is more testing being done now because each state health lab has been provided with testing kits from the CDC this week. Fowler said “This will most likely result in a rapid jump in confirmed cases which only means we’re getting a better picture of what’s out there, not that there is a sudden increase in new cases. And we are cautiously optimistic that this follows the normal pattern of seasonal flu which disappears during the warmer months,” said Fowler.
People who experience influenza symptoms should stay home for seven days after onset of symptoms or at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone away, whichever is longer. All Colorado residents can play a vital role in protecting themselves, their family and co-workers by taking simple, common-sense precautions to keep from getting and spreading the flu. These precautions include:
• wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
• cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow instead of into your hands;
• if you’re sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
For general information on H1N1 and the status of the nationwide outbreak, visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu. For more information on the Colorado response, visit www.cdphe.state.co.us/epr/H1N1.html. Individuals can also call the Colorado Health Info Line (877) 462-2911 with questions. For Archuleta County updates, visit www.sjbhd.org or call San Juan Basin Health Department at 264-2409.