For Immediate Release
May 1, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

KDHE provides response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus outbreak

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has been hard at work this week in response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus outbreak.  On Saturday, KDHE announced that two cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in Dickinson County, Kansas.  Kansas has had no additional confirmed cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in the state.

Today, KDHE is announcing that there is a probable case in a hospitalized patient in Johnson County.  The patient is isolated and is being appropriately managed as a precaution.  The local health department is following the guidance provided through CDC when dealing with a probable case.  This includes a thorough case investigation and management of the patient and close contacts.  A specimen from the patient was received in KDHE’s laboratory yesterday.  Based on the results from KDHE’s testing, the specimen warranted further testing at CDC. Arrangements have been made to deliver the specimen to CDC for testing and we are awaiting word on when results can be expected, but it will likely be late this weekend or early next week.  After KDHE receives the test results and communicates with the local health department, a news release will be issued.  No additional information will be available on this probable patient until final results are reported from CDC. 

KDHE stood up its Department Operations Center on the morning of Saturday, April 25 to prepare for response to the flu outbreak and has been activated since that point.  KDHE has been working in coordination with a number of agencies and organizations from across the country as it responds to the public health emergency at hand.   The agency has been involved with daily coordination with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Kansas Division of Emergency Management/Adjutant General’s Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, local health departments, hospitals, health care providers, school and childcare providers, and the Office of the Governor.  The legislative leadership and legislators in affected counties have also been notified and will continue to be kept apprised of the situation.

This week, KDHE worked with its partners at the Kansas Department of Education and the Kansas Association of School Boards to prepare interim guidance for schools regarding student dismissal.  That interim guidance has been distributed to school districts across the state.  KDHE is also in the process of distributing guidance to Kansas employers on reducing the transmission of the virus in the workplace.

Throughout the response, KDHE has continued to provide information and response to questions and concerns regarding the virus.  On a daily basis, KDHE develops and distributes messages to local health departments, hospitals and other healthcare providers.  Weekly conference calls are being held with local health departments, hospitals and primary care clinics.  Information has been sent to various health care providers across the state through email. 

Since Saturday, KDHE epidemiologists have been answering calls from local health department staff, clinicians and laboratories from across the state.  In a typical week KDHE’s epidemiology staff fields just over 65 initial phone calls from healthcare providers.  In the past six days, they have responded to over 450 initial phone calls, almost seven times the normal volume.  It should be noted that each initial phone call can result in numerous additional lengthy phone calls.

To provide information to the general public, KDHE has posted information on the 2009 H1N1 flu virus that can be accessed directly at www.kdheks.gov.  Since the onset of the outbreak, KDHE’s web site traffic has doubled.  For the month of April, the main page of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus information was the ninth most visited web page on KDHE’s web site.

On Tuesday of this week, KDHE established a phone bank for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the H1N1 flu virus.  The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317.  Operators are available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  As of Thursday evening at 5 p.m., the phone bank had received over 250 calls.

In addition, on Tuesday KDHE established an email address for Kansans with questions about the H1N1 Influenza Virus.  As of Thursday at 5 p.m, that email address, H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov, has received over 100 emails.

KDHE continues to recommend the following steps to reduce the chance of spread:

For more information and updates, please visit the KDHE website at www.kdheks.gov.