Governor Jindal and State Officials Give Update on Seven CDC-Confirmed H1N1 Virus Cases in State

BATON ROUGE - Governor Jindal and state officials held a press conference today to discuss the seven cases the CDC has confirmed for the H1N1 virus in Louisiana, and the two cases that tested negative for the virus.

Of the nine initial samples the state first sent to the CDC for confirmation of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, the CDC has now confirmed seven of the cases are the H1N1 virus. The cases in St. Tammany and St. Martin Parish tested negative for the H1N1 Virus.

Governor Jindal said all seven of the confirmed cases are at home and being treated on antivirals.

Five of the CDC-confirmed cases are in Lafayette, and one is from New Orleans and one from Ascension Parish. The Governor said state labs have now received a total of 800 samples to test for connections to the H1N1 virus. More than 380 have been tested as of today. Of the 800 total in state labs, 121 cases are from Lafayette and 68 are pending; 14 are from Ascension and six of those are pending; and 42 cases are from New Orleans, with 33 of those pending. DHH is expediting the testing of samples for parishes that have CDC-confirmed H1N1 cases.

CDC-CONFIRMED H1N1 CASES

* Lafayette Parish - 5

* Orleans - 1

* Ascension - 1

SUSPECTED H1N1 CASES

* Lafayette Parish - 12

* Orleans - 1

* Beauregard - 1

* St. Landry - 1

* Iberia Parish - 1

CDC-NEGATIVE H1N1 CASES

* St. Martin - 1

* St. Tammany - 1

LAFAYETTE CASES

Governor Jindal said the five cases in Lafayette are students from Cathedral Carmel School, which the state closed Wednesday, based on our surveillance of students there with flu-like illness. In addition, St. Pius and Our Lady of Fatima closed voluntarily due to their connection with these students.

Yesterday, the state announced the closure of Ascension Episcopal School on Johnston Street in Lafayette. Due to the large overlap of activity and contact between students at these schools, DHH recommended these schools remain closed for up to 14 days or until 24 hours after the last child experiences flu-like symptoms.

DHH will provide further guidance to these impacted schools based on CDC's instructions, and in accordance with what epidemiologists on the ground find from their investigations. The state has been in contact with the superintendents of these schools, and they are in agreement with the closure recommendations and will remain closed along the CDC-recommended timeframe.

ST. THOMAS MORE HIGH SCHOOL CLOSURE

The Governor announced today that the state has recommended the closure of St. Thomas More Catholic High School (STM) in Lafayette, which has a direct connection to Cathedral Carmel and a specific suspect case there. The school has agreed to close for the CDC-recommended timeframe of up to 14 days or until 24 hours after the last child shows flu-like symptoms.

Epidemiologists have determined that a student at STM who was at school as recently as Friday is a sibling of a Cathedral Carmel student who is a suspected case of the H1N1 virus, pending with the CDC. The Governor said that state officials recommended the closure of STM after an investigation into the connections at Cathedral Carmel and factoring in the five CDC-confirmed cases at that school.

Governor Jindal said, "We are continuing to take aggressive action to prevent the spread of illness wherever possible. In some cases, this means we will close schools, especially in the Lafayette area where we now have five confirmed H1N1 cases and a direct connection to Mexico, along with a high amount of comingling of students between these different private schools."

The Governor added that, "Because the state already acted as if these cases were positive, we are exactly where we need to be now to continue to track these students and look for any other connections in the community - including day care facilities linked to these schools - so we can prevent the further spread of illness wherever possible."

State officials encourage school principals and teachers to be vigilant about monitoring students for any influenza-like symptoms. If students demonstrate symptoms, their parents should be notified, they should not attend class, and they should consult with, and follow the advice of, their physicians. School officials should notify their local health department if students do demonstrate flu-like illness, so each circumstance may be reviewed as appropriate.

NEW ORLEANS CASE

Governor Jindal said that the positive confirmation the state received for the H1N1 virus in Orleans Parish is case involving a student at Audubon Charter School in New Orleans, who is being treated at home and responding well to the antiviral medicines. This student traveled to Mexico in January and had been around people who had traveled to Mexico recently.

Audubon Charter School voluntarily decided to close the school for three days today - from Monday through Wednesday, after receiving the confirmation from the CDC. The school said they are closing out of an abundance of caution, and in order to give them time to thoroughly clean the school before students return.

The Governor said that state officials did consider closing this school yesterday after identifying the suspected case there, but decided not to recommend its closure because the student has been home sick since seeing the doctor Wednesday and there were not any other suspect cases at that school, at this time.

ASCENSION PARISH CASE

Governor Jindal said the seventh confirmation of the H1N1 virus the state got back from the CDC today is a student at Lake Elementary School in Ascension Parish. This child went home from school Monday and has not returned to school.

The Governor said that the state did consider closing this school also, in accordance with CDC guidelines to consider closure, but this child has been at home for almost a week and there are not currently other suspect cases at the school.

State health officials remain in close contact with the school and they are monitoring student absences and communicating with parents to look for signs of illness in their children.

NEGATIVE CASES REPORTED FROM CDC

The two negative test results the CDC informed the state of today relate to cases in St. Tammany and St. Martin Parish. Both of these cases involve older individuals, not students.

NEW SUSPECT CASES

As of today, Governor Jindal said, DHH has reported two new suspect cases to the CDC for confirmation of the H1N1 virus, bringing the total number of suspect cases in the state to 16. This total includes the reduction of the nine cases the state has received results on, plus the addition of the two new cases reported to the CDC today.

Governor Jindal said the two new suspect cases include a child in New Iberia in Iberia Parish, and an older individual in Opelousas in St. Landry Parish.

211 LINE ACTIVE

In closing, the Governor announced that the state has activated the 211 statewide information and referral phone network to help people throughout the state get information on the H1N1 virus, how it is affecting their area and how they can take measures to prevent the spread of illness. Operators are being updated as the state reports additional information on the virus.

PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY

Make sure you:

* 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.

Symptoms of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) include:

* Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

* If you are experiencing these symptoms - Consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Visit www.FluLa.com for the latest information on the H1N1 virus.

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