BATON ROUGE— Two of the state’s suspected cases of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in Lafayette Parish have been confirmed today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported officials from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
This increases the state’s total, current confirmed case count from seven to nine, and reduces the state’s suspected case count from 35 to 33. There were no new suspected cases reported by the state lab today. All 111 specimens tested there were negative for H1N1 flu.
The two newly confirmed cases are students from Cathedral Carmel, the first school that closed as part of the state’s precautions to help prevent the spread of H1N1.
LDH officials reported earlier that all citizens with confirmed and suspected cases have recovered or are recovering at home. None are hospitalized and none are considered to be at high risk of complications from influenza.
According to LDH Secretary Alan Levine, state officials have been expecting more confirmed cases.
"Because 99 percent of cases sent to CDC nationwide have been confirmed as cases of H1N1 flu, we anticipated confirmation of many of our suspected cases eventually," he said. "The location is also not a surprise, as Cathedral Carmel has already had confirmed cases."
"Early on in this nationwide outbreak, we acted aggressively to try to prevent the spread of the flu in Louisiana through testing, treatment and, out of an abundance of caution, some school closures," Levine said. "Now that the H1N1 flu has proven to be milder than first thought, and most of the suspected cases here are recovering well, it is no longer critical that the H1N1 flu type be confirmed. We continue to be cautious and watchful, and have modified our guidance to health care providers accordingly."
In accordance with CDC guidelines, LDH changed its guidance on Thursday for health care providers and the public about who should see a doctor, get tested and receive treatment for H1N1 flu.
It is expected that most people with novel H1N1 will recover without needing medical care, or testing to see if they have H1N1 flu. Because this flu is so widespread, there is little need to continue testing people with mild or moderate illness that would normally be managed at home.
However if patients have severe illness, or are at high risk for flu complications, they should contact their health care provider by phone for advice about further medical care. The health care provider should focus on illness severity and test and treat the cases which require hospitalization or are considered high risk.
Patients at high risk for complications from influenza include children under five years old, especially those under two years old; adults 65 years of age and older; pregnant women; and people with existing respiratory, pulmonary and certain other conditions.
CDC and LDH are recommending antiviral treatment of H1N1 flu ONLY for hospitalized patients with confirmed or suspected H1N1 flu, or those patients who are at higher risk for seasonal influenza complications, noted above.
People with influenza-like illness should isolate themselves from others. Stay home for seven days or until symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. People who care for other people (children, elderly, hospitalized) with influenza-like illness should follow the same guidelines for the people in their care.
Because this flu is so widespread, there is little need to continue testing people with mild or moderate illness that would normally be managed at home, and little need to test specifically for H1N1. LDH recommends testing only for patients whose symptoms indicate the need for hospitalization, including those at high risk for complications from the flu.
This new guidance should reduce the number of tests begun in hospitals and physicians’ offices, and the number of specimens sent to state lab.
The state lab has received 2,065 specimens since the presence of the H1N1 virus was first detected here. A total of 841 specimens have been tested. Specimens received at the state lab are expected to drop off as DHH’s new guidance is adopted in the field.
SUSPECTED H1N1 CASES
- Lafayette Parish – 21 (down two from yesterday)
- Lafourche – 3
- Iberia – 2
- St. Landry – 2
- Ascension – 1
- Beauregard - 1
- Livingston – 1
- Orleans – 1
- St. Martin – 1
TOTAL – 33
CDC-CONFIRMED H1N1 CASES
- Lafayette – 7 (up two)
- Ascension – 1
- Orleans – 1
TOTAL – 9
CDC-NEGATIVE H1N1 CASES
- St. Martin – 1
- St. Tammany - 1
TOTAL – 2
Protecting Your Family
As the agency does each day, Secretary Levine reminds citizens to take a cautious, common-sense approach to prevent the spread of influenza.
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.
Visit www.FluLa.com for the latest information on the H1N1 virus.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.