Eight suspected cases of Swine Flu investigated

As of press time, officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals are investigating eight suspected cases of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in four parishes. These are only suspected cases, meaning

they could not be identified by the Office of Public Health laboratory in New Orleans and have been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta for confirmation.

Samples of the eight suspected cases tested positive for type A Influenza, which indicates either seasonal or swine flu. The swine flu (H1N1) virus subtype is confirmed by CDC lab tests. Five suspected cases are from Lafayette Parish, and one each from Orleans, St. Martin and St. Tammany parishes.

“There are still no CDC-confirmed cases in Louisiana, but I strongly encourage everyone to continue to practice healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of germs. Our public health experts are working night and day to ensure our state is as safe as possible. We are working closely with our federal partners and statewide associations,” said DHH Secretary Alan Levine.

“We anticipate some confirmed cases in Louisiana, but our collective actions with our partners will help to mitigate the spread of infection. Citizens can help us with that as well. If you feel sick or have flu-like symptoms, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Contact your medical provider immediately,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana State Health Officer.

State epidemiological teams are currently onsite in all four parishes conducting an investigation related to the suspected cases. All family members, friends and contacts of the suspected case individuals are being swabbed and interviewed. Any Louisiana citizen experiencing flu-like symptoms should immediately consult his or her physician.

School closures due to the flu outbreak include: Cathedral Carmel, Lafayette- Reopens Monday, May 4. Has 5 cases of children with Type A flu; St. Cecilia, Broussard- Reopens Monday, May 4. Has 2 cases of children with Type A flu; Fatima, Lafayette- Reopens Monday, May 4. Communion is still on for this weekend. Has 3 cases of children with Type A flu; St. Pius, Lafayette - Reopens Monday, May 4. Has 2 cases of children with Type A flu; Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau- Reopens Monday, May 4. Has 2 cases of children with Type A flu.

Katharine Drexel Elementary has one case of a child with Type A flu. All public schools will remain open on Friday.

Westminster Christian Academy is advising any student who went to Mexico recently to stay home from school until Monday. They are asking anyone with flu-like symptoms to get a doctor’s release before returning to school.

A Unified Command Group meeting was scheduled Friday to update all state agencies and continue coordination of efforts to mitigate the spread of swine flu in Louisiana. This is a rapidly evolving situation. As new information is available, the Department will make appropriate announcements and updates to its Web site at www.flula.com.

The CDC has determined that the virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu, but DHH continues to strongly encourage Louisiana citizens to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of germs by following these steps.

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. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

Avoid close contact with sick people.

If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

The CDC does not recommend the use of antivirals as a precautionary measure to prevent infection of any influenza virus. It should only be used for treatment of cases of influenza.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

For more information on swine flu, visit www.flula.com or www.cdc.gov.

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