/Health District Reports Two Confirmed H1N1 Flu Cases

Health District Reports Two Confirmed H1N1 Flu Cases

May 5, 2009

LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District announced today that two cases of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) have been confirmed in Clark County residents. The patients are an 11-year-old boy who has since recovered and a 39-year-old woman who is hospitalized. Swine flu was confirmed by laboratory testing conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The health district currently has five samples pending at the CDC.

“Swine flu cases are occurring throughout the country and while the identification of cases in Clark County is not surprising and is not cause for alarm, it underscores the importance of the public taking the necessary steps to protect their health and prevent the spread of disease,” said Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District.

The health district is investigating the cases in order to better understand the course of illness and possible sources of exposure. Neither patient traveled within seven days prior to onset or had contact with persons who were ill. The health district’s influenza surveillance program is ongoing and the agency continues to work with community partners and health care providers to monitor the current situation and take appropriate measures.

“Unfortunately, one of the identified patients is hospitalized and we will continue to stay in close contact with their health care providers to ensure they have access to current treatment recommendations and resources as appropriate,” said Dr. Sands.

Several cases of more severe illness and one death have been reported in the United States but for the most part cases have been fairly mild. The health district is stressing that a recommendation to close public venues or schools is not warranted at this time. Future recommendations will be based on assessments of the progression and severity of illness in the community. The current strain of swine flu is thought to be circulating through communities the same way seasonal flu spreads. Individuals who are ill should avoid traveling or attending public events to minimize the spread of influenza or any other infectious illness.

Current recommendations to the public encourage good health habits to minimize the spread of influenza:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Plan ahead. Have enough food and supplies on hand to ensure you can rest comfortably at home if you do become ill but don’t require professional medical care.

Individuals who become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea may want to contact their health care provider. Only a health care provider can determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. As with seasonal flu, swine flu infection can be serious in some people. While swine flu viruses can infect humans, the current strain circulating in our community is made of genes from four different types of flu viruses, including those found in swine, birds and humans. The name “swine flu” actually refers to the origin of some of the pieces of the virus and is not related to how this particular disease is spread or the source of infection in the community. The current strain of the virus appears only to be spreading from person to person and swine have not been found to be infected. Also, there is no risk of being infected with any type of swine flu from consuming pork products.

Updated information is available on the Southern Nevada Health District website, www.SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict.org as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site, www.cdc.gov. In addition, the Nevada Helpline is available in English and Spanish, (1-866) 767-5038 or (702) 759-INFO (4636).

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The Southern Nevada Health District serves as the local public health authority for Clark County, Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite and North Las Vegas. The agency safeguards the public health of the community’s residents and visitors through innovative programs, regulations, and initiatives focused on protecting and promoting their health and well-being. More information about the Health District, its programs, services, and the regulatory oversight it provides is available at www.SNHD.info.