For Release: May 6, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
Additional Cases of Novel H1N1 Influenza Confirmed in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma State Department of Health today reported three new confirmed cases of the newly emerging strain of H1N1 influenza A. This brings to four the number of confirmed cases in Oklahoma. Two of the cases, an adult female and a teenage girl, are residents of Cleveland County. The other case is a female child who lives in Oklahoma County.
Each of these cases recovered without hospitalization.
State and local public health officials are coordinating with local schools and school nurses to monitor for any increased illness or absenteeism. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance regarding closure of schools and childcare facilities to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus. CDC now recommends focusing on early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when sick, and practicing good cough etiquette and frequent hand washing rather than closing a school upon confirmation of a case of novel influenza A. Decisions about school closure should be at the discretion of local authorities based on local considerations.
Public health officials note that this novel influenza virus continues to behave like regular seasonal influenza, and the precautions issued annually for seasonal influenza are the same for preventing the new H1N1 flu:
· Wash hands often to protect yourself from germs.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are often spread when a person touches a contaminated object and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or “sneeze in your sleeve.”
· If you are sick, stay home from work, school, church, and running errands. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
The virus is spread person-to-person, not by eating pork or pork products.
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent the novel 2009 H1N1 flu and the current flu vaccine used to prevent seasonal influenza will not provide protection against this new flu strain.
State health officials say the OSDH Public Health Laboratory continues to process specimens submitted by Oklahoma physicians who have patients with flu-like symptoms and who have noted a recent travel history to Mexico or other areas affected by the H1N1 flu. The laboratory will soon move into a new phase of being able to conduct its own confirmatory testing of these specimens.
Although the virus continues to be circulating, public health officials recommend that all Oklahomans continue to go about their regular day-to-day activities and attend public events and gatherings as long as you are not sick.
Persons with questions about H1N1 influenza may call the OSDH H1N1 flu toll-free hotline at 1-866-278-7134 from 8 am to 8 pm. Additional information is available by visiting the OSDH Web site at www.health.ok.gov and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu, or by calling your local county health department.