For Immediate Release
August 3, 2009

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

Update on the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus in Kansas

Last week, 31 new cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus were confirmed in Kansas, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 247.  Six new counties (Barton, Bourbon, Decatur, Jackson, McPherson and Stanton) saw their first confirmed case of the virus last week, bringing to 41 the total number of Kansas counties with laboratory-confirmed evidence of H1N1 flu infections since the first cases were reported in the state on April 25.

It’s important to note that the number of cases reported by KDHE represents only those cases that have had confirmatory testing done through KDHE’s laboratory.  The number of Kansans infected by the virus is much higher.  Based on estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10,000 Kansans have likely been infected with the virus.

Last week new evidence was published that pregnant women are at a greater risk for more severe disease and complications from the H1N1 virus.  KDHE and the CDC recommend that health care professionals treat pregnant women with influenza-like illness as soon as possible and not wait for testing to determine if the illness is in fact the H1N1 virus.  This is because antiviral treatment is most effective when started as early as possible after the onset of symptoms.  Because of the increased risk, pregnant women should be alert to any symptoms they may be experiencing and should contact their healthcare provider if they have any concerns.

As of today, KDHE has confirmed 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 and the CDC.

Confirmed Cases – 247 total

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.