CDC has transferred the capability to conduct confirmatory testing to State public health laboratories including the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services. We hope to be hearing soon on the other pending probable cases that have thus far been identified in this community. In the future, it is likely that only positively confirmed tests will be identified. The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting today 40 probable cases and 82 confirmed cases in 11 counties throughout the State of Illinois.
Other new information has been released today from CDC that modifies previous school dismissal recommendations based on newly emerging information on the severity of observed illness in school-aged children throughout the U.S. Most cases have not been severe and have been found to be more comparable to that of seasonal influenza. During the earliest days following the identification of this outbreak in Mexico, there were more severe illnesses and hospitalizations. The same observations have not held up thus far in this country. As a result, there is new interim guidance for schools and childcare facilities.
Rather than continuing to close individual schools based on the diagnosis of cases of Novel influenza H1N1 flu in students or staff, the Health Department and school district officials will implement a countywide policy that focuses on keeping all students with symptoms of influenza out of school during their period of illness and recuperation, when they are potentially infectious to others. This change in policy is recommended by the CDC and is an enhanced version of the approach that already is in use during the yearly influenza season.
At the onset of this outbreak of a previously unknown influenza virus, it was thought to be prudent to close affected schools while more was learned about the characteristics of this new disease and the strategy for community measures to prevent illness. The collaboration of parents, students and school officials during this early stage of the outbreak is appreciated. The closures have helped to decrease spread of infection in the schools and have provided valuable time to gather information about this new H1N1 influenza strain.
In Winnebago County, the Health Department is working with Kinnikinnick School District, #131 Superintendent Robert Lauber on plans to open school as soon as Thursday (May 7) with a emphasis on keeping sick people away from healthy people. Children and/or staff who are sick will need to stay home for seven days from the onset of symptoms.
The symptoms of the Novel H1N1 Influenza is very similar to that of seasonal influenza and include fever of 100 or above, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue. In some cases vomiting and diarrhea have been reported as a symptom. The Health Department is recommending that individuals experiencing these symptoms consult their healthcare provider by calling for further instructions.
The Department wants to emphasize as the outbreak of the Novel H1N1 Influenza continues, everyone can contribute to reducing its spread. Individuals can take precautions to stay healthy by following the three C’s:
Clean - Properly wash your hands frequently
Cover - Cover your cough and sneeze
Contain - Contain your germs by staying home if you are sick