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Local Child Infected With Rare Swine Flu

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April 21, 2009

Two cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) have been detected in Imperial and San Diego Counties, according to the Imperial County Public Health Department and San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency.

In Imperial County, the case is a 9-year-old while the case in San Diego County is a 10-year-old. Confirmation for the San Diego case was received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 15th and Imperial County received confirmation on April 17th.

Neither of the patients were hospitalized and both have recovered.

Although swine influenza viruses normally infect and cause illness in pigs, sporadic human infections with swine flu do occasionally occur.

Both the Imperial County Public Health Department and San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency are working closely with state and federal officials on the investigation.

Preliminary study of the virus indicates that this particular genetic combination of swine influenza is novel and has not been seen before in the United States.

Neither of the two patients reported being near pigs and both cases were detected through seasonal influenza surveillance with local providers. Health officials in both counties are investigating the source and transmission of the two infections by speaking with family members and others who had close contact with the cases.

The first human swine influenza virus, H1N1, was reported in the United States in 1930. Swine flu is a cause of respiratory disease in pigs throughout the world and can occasionally cause human disease.

In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the United States, but since 2005, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.

The increase could be a result of increased influenza testing capabilities and capacities in public health laboratories.

Most commonly, human cases of swine influenza happen when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig production barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.

The symptoms of swine influenza in people are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza infection and include fever, lethargy, coughing and lack of appetite.
To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen is collected within the first 4 to 5 days of infection.

The seasonal influenza vaccine (i.e., flu shot) does not protect against swine H1N1 viruses.

Although the current influenza season has been mild in both counties, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to stop the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses:

· Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to friends and co-workers or students.

· Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.

· Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

· Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and getting adequate rest and exercise.

For further information about swine influenza, visit the CDC Web site.


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