Local News

Wake County reports first swine flu case

Posted June 1, 2009 2:10 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2009 11:02 p.m. EDT

— Wake County has its first confirmed case of swine flu, the county health director told county commissioners Monday.

Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, interim community health director, told commissioners that a 42-year-old woman began displaying flu-like symptoms last week and was tested for swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus. The test was done by a private lab, but samples also were sent to the state public health lab for confirmation, she said.

The woman hasn't been traveling recently, Tilson said, so officials haven't determined how she contracted the illness in North Carolina. She has been isolated and is being treated with anti-viral medication, and officials have notified and are monitoring people with whom she has been in recent contact.

Two of those people have displayed some flu-like symptoms, but they haven't tested positive for H1N1, Tilson said.

"We know that (swine flu) is in North Carolina, and I don't think that this (case) is that alarming," she said.

The case is the 22nd case of the H1N1 virus statewide, with eight coming in the last week.

On Thursday, four elementary school-aged children in New Hanover Counties contracted swine flu. Individual cases were reported in Orange, Onslow and Brunswick counties.

More than 10,000 cases of H1N1 have shown up nationwide, and 17 people in the U.S. have died from the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 42 countries have confirmed cases of the disease, which has sickened more than 11,000 people and caused about 90 deaths, the World Health Organization reports.

Swine flu symptoms and precautions

State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel recommends good hand hygiene – washing in soap, covering coughs and sneezes – and staying at home to prevent the spread of germs to others. Using hand sanitizer is a good alternative if you can't wash, he said, but "nothing beats soap and water for 10 to 15 seconds."

"To ward off any potential, just be prudent as you would during normal flu season," he said. "Just monitor your symptoms. If you get a flu-like illness, stay at home, stay away from school and work, and seek health care, if you have serious complications with the flu."

Serious complications include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, severe nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and chest pains, he said.

"This flu doesn't seem to be any more severe than regular seasonal flu. If anything, it is probably less severe," Tilson said.

If you think you have the H1N1 virus stay at home, except to visit a doctor. Avoid close contact with others for seven days after symptoms begin, or until you have been symptom free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.