May 4, 2009 -
Sunday, a probable case of H1N1 influenza A, also known as swine flu, has been identified in Knox County. The laboratory sample has been sent to national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Knox County Health Department is awaiting final confirmation.
The CDC has determined that the virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
"Now that swine flu is likely in Knox County, we expect to see more infections, but it's too early to say how severe the illnesses will be. We are working to provide needed information and assistance to these people and their families. We are also working with health care providers and community partners to prepare in the event that the situation becomes more serious," said Dr. Martha Buchanan, Public Health Officer for Knox County.
"We’ve prepared for this day, and now we must all do our part to reduce its spread," said Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. "We encourage everyone to take steps to protect yourself, your family and the community by staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often and covering your coughs and sneezes.”
"Over the last few years, Knox County has prepared for pandemic flu. We have activated our Resource Operations Center at the first level so our emergency operations personnel can coordinate procedures and communications," said Mark Jones, Knox County Health Department director.
As of today, May 3, there is a probable case of H1N1 flu in Knox County, involving a child first reported ill on April 28, who was not hospitalized and has now recovered. The patient is a student at West Valley Middle School. In coordination with Knox County School Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre and following national Centers for Disease Control recommendations, West Valley will be closed for five school days – through Friday, May 8 -- or seven calendar days. The situation will be reassessed on Friday, May 8 to determine if further action is needed to slow the spread of the virus in the community.
Tennessee has one confirmed case of H1N1 influenza in Williamson County. Four probable cases have been identified in Davidson (2), Knox and Shelby counties. Human cases of swine influenza virus infection have been identified nationally and internationally.
When should you seek medical care?
Use the same judgment you would use during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and whether you need to be evaluated.
Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.
If you have flu-like symptoms that are mild, medical attention is not typically required. Mild symptoms include runny nose or nasal stuffiness; low-grade fever for less than three days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.
What can I do now to get prepared?
This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a possible influenza pandemic. See http://knoxcounty.org/health/emer_prepare/pandemic_flu.php
Everyday behaviors to stay healthy
If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
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. If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Avoid close contact with sick people
What is swine flu?
"Swine flu" is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called "swine flu," it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
For more information and frequent updates: www.knoxcounty.org/health
Knox County Public Health Hotline: 865-215-5555. Phone lines will be open until 9 p.m. to answer questions from the public.