|No H1N1 virus here yet, but it will come|
|Friday, May 1, 2009|
By CONNIE ESH, The Wilson Post
So far, so good in Wilson County as there have been no cases reported of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. Even so, state health officials expect there will be cases of the illness reported at some point in Wilson.
The Tennessee Department of Health lab has identified two probable cases of the novel (H1N1) virus, or swine flu, in the state. One patient is a Williamson County resident, and the second is in Memphis. Both are receiving treatment for symptoms at home, are recovering from the illness and have a good prognosis.
“It’s important to note that more human cases of swine flu will be detected in Tennessee because of expanded testing and surveillance,” said State Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “People should be alert to developing news and information about this virus, but should not panic based on this probable case. The more you know, the more you can do to ensure your family’s health.”
Jody Glenn, director of the Emergency Department at University Medical Center, said, “The physicians and staff at University Medical Center encourages individuals, families and our community to take the appropriate steps to prepare themselves, including a heightened sense of awareness and knowledge of the symptoms, the practice of good personal hygiene and to stay home when you are not feeling well.”
Glenn offered the following advice. If you experience flu like symptoms including fever, cough, body aches, runny nose, or sore throat, please notify your primary care physician, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms.
History has shown time and time again that isolation is one of the best tools to help stop the spread of infectious diseases. If you find yourself ill, stay home until you are better, he said.
In addition, Glenn noted, stay out of heavily crowded, enclosed areas and at least 3 to 6 feet away from those who are coughing or sneezing.
Practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds and rinse thoroughly.
Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and rub your hands together until they are dry.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue. Put the tissues in a wastebasket. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleanser.
Stay at home if you are sick, he emphasized.
Emergency warning signs needing urgent medical attention are, in children, trouble breathing, bluish skin color, fever with rash, difficulty waking up or not interacting. In adults, warning signs are trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, severe or persistent vomiting, confusion and a fever greater than 102 degrees.
Because there are suspected cases in Tennessee, you should increase your diligence in following the appropriate precautions necessary to prevent cross-contamination, he noted.
“University Medical Center is ready when you need us,” Glenn said. “We actively participate in a comprehensive regional response team and have pandemic preparedness plans in place to meet the needs of our community.”
Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis said Thursday that the county schools have put together a plan for dealing with any potential cases of the new flu strain.
“My only real concern is the large gatherings around graduations,” Davis said, “but hopefully there won’t be a problem with those.”
He said the school nurses will check any child who complains of illness at school, and if it appears to be any type of flu the child will be sent home and encouraged to see his or her family physician.
He added that their policy will encourage the same precautions offered by the UMC staff.
He said there are no plans to close schools or shorten the school year. “If there is a need for closing, the Health Department will advise us,” he said. The Nashville school the child from Williamson County attends, Harding Academy, was closed by school officials on advice of the state health department for seven days.
Davis also said that school personnel are doing what they can to sterilize surfaces that children, teachers and staff touch such as door knobs.
Dean Flener, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health, offered these suggestions.
“If you are ill and believe you may have the flu, stay home,” he said. “Don’t go to the emergency room. If you have questions, call your primary care provider, or call your local county health department for information. If you think you should see a doctor, call first.”
He also said there is currently no vaccine against this flu virus.
Flener added, “If you have travel plans, at this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that American travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico.”
No other specific travel recommendations have been made at this time related to the flu outbreak. Changes to this recommendation will be posted on the CDC’s website at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/.