State News

Perdue says N.C. prepared for H1N1 virus

Posted May 4, 2009 8:57 a.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2009 9:52 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Bev Perdue assured North Carolinians that the state is prepared for the H1N1 outbreak after receiving confirmation that one person has the virus known as the swine flu.

"Let me reassure all of you that North Carolina is as prepared, and some of us believe, more prepared, than any state in the country," Perdue said Sunday. "We have had an emergency center up and running for more than a week in case this day came, and here it is."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a resident of Onslow County who recently traveled to Texas has the disease.

Perdue said everyone who has been in contact with the patient are following CDC isolation guidelines, as is the patient. No secondary cases have been reported so far.

The governor stressed to the state's residents and visitors that they should take the necessary precautions, such as washing their hands thoroughly, covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough and stay at home if they feel sick.

State health director Dr. Jeffrey Engel would neither identify nor give any details about the patient, except to say a couple who had traveled to San Antonio acquired the disease. Engel said he didn't know when they had been there, but did say that they had been there for around five days when they picked up the flu.

Engel said the couple has been ordered into isolation for seven days after the initial manifestation of symptoms, and the spouse is a probable case awaiting CDC confirmation, possibly on Monday. Neither has been to the hospital, he said.

"None of their contacts has become ill," Engel said.

So far, the state lab has handled 413 samples and had 320 come back negative. Of those, 65 are still outstanding, Engel said.

Six cases are probable, and one test involving a traveler from Wake County is being rerun because the results were inconclusive, he said. The man was allowed to return to Canada this week after a North Carolina clinician initially suspected he only had a Canadian variant of the seasonal Type A flu, officials said.

Engel also pointed to four probable cases in Craven County, and those cases are in a cluster and are in isolation in keeping with CDC guidelines.

"The Craven (County) cluster is still under investigation, but it's likely that there was household transmission. But all of these folks are being isolated in their homes, (and) none of them are hospitalized yet,” Engel said.

The tally released Sunday by the CDC also shows 30 states now have cases of swine flu. That's up from the CDC's count of 160 confirmed cases in 21 states.

If you have questions about the H1N1 virus in North Carolina, call 800-662-7030.