An unnamed Mission Hospitals employee is the first confirmed case of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, in Buncombe County, health department officials confirmed in an announcement today.
“The infect did work at Mission Hospitals and has been home since Tuesday,” Health Director Gibbie Harris told Xpress. “We’ve found 23 people that were exposed. So far, none have demonstrated any symptoms.”
“Health officials are working closely with this person and their contacts to reduce the spread of the infection to others,” the announcement reads. “This is the first confirmed case of H1N1 virus in Buncombe County. At this time, no other cases or clusters have been identified in Buncombe County.”
Hospital officials are now evaluating other staff and patients that may have come into contact with the infected individual.
According to the announcement, which does not specify the employee’s particular job or identity, “ten employees, ten patients, one physician and one nurse practitioner were identified and all have been put on precautionary medication. None of these people have shown any symptoms of flu.”
Harris, in briefing the county commissioners on the department’s response to the flu last week, noted that in North Carolina generally only individuals hospitalized for a respiratory infection are tested for H1N1.
The H1N1 virus is a respiratory infection with symptoms similar to the seasonal flu, including increased body temperature, coughs, sore throat and fatigue. Health officials are recommending that anyone sick with those symptoms remains home and avoids contact with others while they may be contagious.
The full announcement is below.
— David Forbes, staff writer
1st Case of H1N1 Virus Confirmed in Buncombe County
Today, Buncombe County Health officials announced one confirmed case of novel H1N1 virus in a Mission Hospital employee. Tests conducted at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Lab (state lab) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed the case as novel H1N1 virus. Health officials are working closely with this person and their contacts to reduce the spread of the infection to others.
This is the first confirmed case of H1N1 virus in Buncombe County. At this time, no other cases or clusters have been identified in Buncombe County.
In response to the confirmed case, hospital officials are following CDC Influenza Prevention Guidelines, which includes evaluation of staff who may have been exposed to flu symptoms. Ten employees, ten patients, one physician and one nurse practitioner were identified and all have been put on precautionary medication. None of these people have shown any symptoms of flu.
H1N1 virus is a respiratory infection caused by an influenza type A virus. The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include:
fever over 100 degrees F AND
cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue.
Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with novel H1N1 flu.
If someone has symptoms they should stay home from work or school to avoid infecting others. Symptoms develop 1 – 3 days after exposure to someone who is sick and they are considered contagious for 7-10 days.
“The best way to reduce the spread of H1N1 or any other type of flu is to stay home when you are sick,” says Gibbie Harris, Health Director of Buncombe County Health Center. “With this and any respiratory illness, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your sleeve and washing your hands often is also a very effective way of reducing the spread of illness.”
Children less than 5 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, or any age with chronic disease or other risk factors may experience flu symptoms and complications that require medical care. Flu symptoms requiring urgent medical attention include:
Trouble breathing including shortness of breath or fast breathing
Bluish skin color
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Confusion or irritability
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Refusing to drink fluids
The most effective way to reduce the spread of influenza is for people with symptoms to stay at home.
Additional recommendations include:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
For more information about novel H1N1flu:
CALL: Buncombe County Health Center H1N1 Flu HOTLINE: (828) 250-6400
or NC CARE LINE (800) 662-7030
WEB: Local: www.buncombecounty.org State: http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/flu.html