Havasu 6-year-old had H1N1

KINGMAN - Mohave County confirmed its first case of H1N1 flu virus, formerly known as swine flu, in a 6-year-old Lake Havasu City boy who has since made a full recovery.

The assistant director for the Mohave County Department of Public Health, Jennifer McNally, confirmed on Monday that the boy was the first in the county to test positive for the virus. In accordance with revised policies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the boy was kept out of school for seven days upon exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but the public school he attended remained open, with no additional flu cases reported.

"He started showing symptoms in the early part of May, and he was kept out of school for the seven days recommended by the CDC," McNally said. "Also, because it's taken a little bit of time to get the (testing) confirmation back, he's actually fully recovered, so there'd be no reason to close the whole school."

McNally said the CDC revised its school closure recommendations on May 9, placing a greater emphasis on isolating individual infected children, rather than closing the whole school.

"If there is a great deal of absenteeism from either children or the faculty - if it interferes with the (school's) ability to function, then (the CDC) are recommending that they work with local public health departments to determine if they should close," she said.

The Lake Havasu case is the first of 31 suspected flu samples to test positive for the H1N1 virus. While most of the rest have come back negative, McNally said four samples remain at the state lab for testing, with results expected later this week. Those samples, she noted, are from Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City.

McNally noted that, as the virus spreads, more H1N1 cases could go undocumented since the CDC has changed its testing qualifications. When the flu strain first broke out last month, the CDC recommended testing anyone who exhibited flu-like symptoms. Now, however, the CDC recommends testing only for patients who require hospitalization.

"The reason they changed is because they know the H1N1 virus is spreading in the public and in their communities," McNally said, switching the focus from individual cases to community prevention. To prevent the spread of disease, the CDC is recommending simple measures including covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and staying home from work or school if you get sick.

Symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to those of seasonal influenza and consist of: high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and body aches. Some cases also include symptoms unique to the strain, including nausea and diarrhea.

Treatment of the virus is also similar to that of seasonal flu, with the CDC recommending the afflicted stay in bed, rest, and take plenty of fluids. Anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza have also proven effective in fighting off the infection.

Those suffering from less common, acute symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness or severe vomiting should seek immediate medical care. For more information on the H1N1 virus, call 1-866-409-4099 or visit www.HealthELinks.com.

According to official CDC estimates, the H1N1 toll as of May 15 stands at 299 confirmed cases in Arizona, 5,123 confirmed and suspected cases throughout the United States, and five U.S. deaths. The World Health Organization currently estimates the global toll at 8,829 cases in 40 countries, including 74 deaths, most of which occurred in Mexico.