For Immediate Release
May 28, 2009

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

Weekly update of 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus in Kansas

As of today, a total of 79 cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus have been confirmed in Kansas according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).  The cases involve 46 children and 33 adults living in 11 counties.

“While KDHE continues to report the number of confirmed cases, these case counts underestimate the actual number of infections,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health.  “Not everyone who is infected seeks care, and not everyone who seeks care is providing a specimen for testing,” he explained.

“Beyond this, we have stopped testing specimens from a number of places in Kansas where it is already clear that the virus is circulating,” Dr. Eberhart-Phillips said. “Capacity for testing at the state public health laboratory is limited and has to be restricted primarily to identifying cases in counties not currently known to have widespread viral transmission,” he added.

 “At this point, we shouldn’t focus so much on the number of confirmed cases, but on the counties where the virus is being transmitted,” he said. This week new cases were identified in Geary, Reno, Riley, Saline and Sedgwick counties.
   
Earlier this month KDHE stopped testing specimens from non-hospitalized patients in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, as well as Irwin Army Community Hospital at Fort Riley.  This week KDHE notified Saline County health care providers that testing of non-hospitalized patients would stop for their county as well.

Dr. Eberhart-Phillips noted that healthcare providers in these counties are encouraged to treat suspected cases the same as they would confirmed cases.  He added that health care providers in the rest of the state should continue to report suspect cases to their local health departments and test them for infection with the virus.

He also said that as the season for summer camp begins, it is important for parents to remain alert for signs of flu-like illness (fever with a cough or sore throat) in their children.

“Many cases of the 2009 H1N1 virus have occurred in children, and we know that any flu virus can spread more easily in group settings,” said Dr. Eberhart-Phillips.  “If your children show signs of illness, contact your family doctor or a local clinic and keep them home from summer camps, day cares or other group activities.”

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

Confirmed Cases – 79 total

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.

Note to Editors: KDHE will continue to issue an update news release once a week on Thursday mornings.  In addition, KDHE will issue a news release whenever cases are confirmed in new counties or other major developments occur.  Information on confirmed case counts will be updated once each week day around 10 a.m. on the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus section of KDHE’s web site (www.kdheks.gov).