HUDSON—Tests have confirmed the first known case of H1N1 swine flu in Columbia County, according to a release issued by the county Department of Health Saturday afternoon, May 30. Officials say case is a mild case and the patient is expected to make a full recovery.
The health department has been using a previously established emergency preparedness plan since public health agencies nationwide began to track the spread of the virus several weeks ago. The plan includes increased surveillance, additional protocols to reduce the possibility for transmission of the virus in health care facilities, and education and awareness in conjunction with the state Health Department, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Last week Columbia Memorial Hospital treated a patient from Greene County who also tested positive for the illness. That patient was also expected to recover completely, and health personnel suggested that the patient may have contracted the illness in New York City, not locally.
The health department did not release details on the latest case.
As of Friday, May 29, the state Department of Health reported that there have been 619 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus throughout the state, with the majority of them in New York City. Outside the city, the total number of cases was 204, including two cases in Dutchess County. The case in Columbia County was not part of the statewide total reported Friday.
Local physicians and healthcare physicians can confirm that an illness is influenza, but only a small number of laboratories around the country can distinguish whether the variant of flu contracted by a patient is H1N1.
The county health department advises that symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness—pneumonia and respiratory failure—have been reported with swine flu infection. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Experts encourage people experiencing these symptoms to call their primary care physician first.
The department also issued a reminder that everyone can help prevent the spread of flu by washing hands often and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. If possible, people with flu symptoms should stay home from work or school, and all people should cover their mouth before they cough or sneeze.
Most flu patients can be cared for at home with supportive treatment to reduce their temperature and maintain an adequate fluid intake. But children should not be given aspirin to reduce pain or fever because it could cause a rare but potentially serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
Flu patients who have difficulty breathing or who suffer dehydration do require medical intervention. Parents should be aware that children can become dehydrated quickly. Things to be concerned about are dry mouth and tongue; lack of tears, dark circles or sunken eyes, decreased urine output and lethargy (extreme drowsiness or pronounced lack of interest). If these symptoms occur, call a health care provider or call 911 if the regular healthcare provider cannot be reached.
For information on caring for a flu patient at home, visit http://www.nyhealth.gov, the site also has other information on swine flu as do the CDC site, http://www.cdc.gov, the county website, http://www.columbiacountyny.com, and the WHO site http://www.who.int.
Columbia County residents can call (518) 828-1212, a hotline for all questions about the H1N1 swine flu only