For Immediate Release
May 9, 2009

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

Saturday update of 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus cases identified in Kansas

Six new cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus have been confirmed in Johnson, Ottawa and Wyandotte Counties according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).    The two news cases in Johnson County involve one child and one adult.  One new case involves a child in Ottawa County.  The three new cases in Wyandotte County all involve children.  Today’s announcement brings the Kansas totals to 18 confirmed cases. 

As of Friday, May 8, KDHE has informed health care providers in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties that it is only necessary for specimens to be collected and sent to KDHE’s laboratories for analysis if the patient is hospitalized with influenza-like illness. Laboratory testing is important early in a flu epidemic to show where the virus is circulating through a community. 

“Based on the number of cases identified in these two counties, it is clear that the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus is circulating there,” said Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer and Director of Health for KDHE. “So additional laboratory testing is not required under most circumstances. If we believe there are clusters of cases in schools or other institutional settings, laboratory testing may be recommended.” 

Dr. Eberhart-Phillips noted that health care providers in the rest of the state should continue to report suspect cases and test them for evidence of infection with the virus. “Wherever they are found, suspect cases can and should be treated with antiviral medications without laboratory confirmation,” he added.

Individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms.  Others living in the home should also minimize their contact with people outside of the home; this includes keeping children out of school.  These recommendations are based on the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

KDHE will report cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus once daily by 10 a.m through a news release and at www.kdheks.gov.  The daily report will include all cases identified by 11:59 p.m. of the previous day.

As of today, KDHE has identified the following cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus in Kansas (the following list includes the new cases announced in this release).  In all cases, the local health departments are following the guidance provided by KDHE when dealing with a confirmed case. 

Confirmed Cases – 18 total

Dickinson County – 2 cases

Johnson County – 7 cases

Ottawa County – 1 case

Sedgwick County – 1 case

Wyandotte County – 7 cases

KDHE is continuing to work with local health departments and other healthcare providers to identify cases in Kansas and interrupt the chain of virus transmission wherever it is found.

The symptoms of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include:

Individuals who experience the above symptoms should contact their health care provider, who will determine whether testing or treatment is needed. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus, but there are effective treatments available once the infection is diagnosed.

As with any influenza virus, individuals are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce spread:

It is important to know that the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus is not transmitted by food.  You cannot get this virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe.

KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus.  The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317.  Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions.

Kansans with questions about the virus can email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov.  Information is also available from KDHE at www.kdheks.gov.