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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 

Phone Bank

The Winnebago County Health Department has opened a Phone Bank for Winnebago County residents to call for more information on HINI Flu.
 
• The Phone Bank number is: (815) 720-4242. Information is provided in both English and Spanish. Approximately 300 calls have come into the Phone Bank since its opening on April 29, 2009.
 
• The WCHD Phone Bank is open will be open Monday - Friday 8 AM - 6 PM. The Illinois Department
of Public Health is operating a Hotline from 6 AM - 10 PM daily at 1-866-848-2094 (English) and
1-866-2138 (Espanol).
 
• The CDC is operating a 24/7 Information Hotline at: 1-800-232-4636.
 
• For further information, visit CDC at: www.cdc.gov/flu/swine.
 
• Please visit the WCHD Website for local and regularly updated information from many resources atwww.wchd.org.

Prevention Measures
Early detection of likely cases is important to preventing or minimizing the future cases of disease.
• If you have a cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your sleeve. 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 hands cleaners also are effective when hand washing facilities are not available.
 
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are spread through such contact.
 
• Influenza is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
 
• If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
 
# # # - 5/05/09 - 4:00 p.m.