Kansas reports first confirmed cases of swine flu

April 26th, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by admin  

KANSAS (BNO NEWS) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has confirmed two cases of swine flu in the state, officials said on Saturday.

The infected people are two adults residing in the same household in Dickinson County, according to a statement released by the agency. Neither of the patients were hospitalized and only one of them is still ill and being treated.

One of the patients had recently traveled to Mexico, flying in and out of Wichita. Both persons work in Saline County and became ill with the same unique (H1N1) strain of swine flu that has been identified in Mexico, California and Texas, lab results confirmed.

“It’s not yet known whether this will become the next flu pandemic,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of the KDHE Division of Health. “We are working closely with health agencies at all levels and are continuing to monitor these cases. We are taking this situation very seriously.”

KDHE and the Dickinson County Health Department are investigating the sources of exposure, and efforts are being coordinated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals who have been in contact with the patients are being interviewed and tested. Local health departments and hospitals in Kansas are being continuously updated and provided with information about the swine flu virus.

In accordance with the Kansas Response Plan, KDHE is also monitoring and instituting recommendations from CDC for any additional influenza disease surveillance activities, reviewing plans to further enhance those activities, and advising health care providers to use rapid detection tests for persons who have symptoms consistent with swine flu, especially if they have recently been in Mexico, and taking other steps under the plan.

The symptoms of swine flu in humans are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever greater than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion and in some cases diarrhea and vomiting.

The KDHE asks people who experience the above symptoms to contact their physician who will determine whether testing or treatment is needed. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu, the department said. Residents are advised to take the following steps to prevent the virus from spreading:

* 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.

Further, on Friday afternoon, the KDHE Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology received a report of unusual flu-like illness from Dickinson County. Respiratory specimens were collected from both patients and received by KDHE last evening.

Today, at around 2 a.m., the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories at KDHE reported preliminary results which were positive for influenza A viruses. Between about 2:30 and 3 a.m., KDHE notified the Dickinson County Health Department of those preliminary results, which notified the attending physician. It is not yet known if the two are in fact infected with swine flu.

Around that same time, KDHE obtained the use of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ plane to safely and securely transport the samples as rapidly as possible to the CDC labs in Atlanta for confirmatory analysis to determine if the viruses were of the (H1N1) strain. A staff member with the KDHE Center for Public Health Preparedness handed the samples to a CDC representative at about 6:10 a.m. on Saturday, and the samples reached the labs at about 6:30 a.m. KDHE convened staff in its Department Operations Center at 10 a.m. Saturday, and was notified by CDC of the confirmatory results at 2:30 p.m.

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