Adolescent picks up swine flu at camp in Georgia

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 2, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
An adolescent who attended a summer camp in Georgia is the second Rowan County resident to be diagnosed with the novel H1N1 flu, commonly known as the swine flu.
Nora Cartner, adult public health supervisor for the Rowan County Health Department, said the case was reported to the department on Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. She did not know the adolescent’s age or sex, but said a state communicable disease nurse said the adolescent got sick along with several others at the camp.
The first case, reported on June 11, was a 3-year-old who attended a Cabarrus County day-care center. Another 3-year-old in the day care who lives in Cabarrus also tested positive for the swine flu, according to Dr. William “Fred” Pilkington, public health director for the Cabarrus Health Alliance.
According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Web site, updated Wednesday afternoon, Cabarrus has since had two more cases confirmed. Of the other counties bordering Rowan, two cases have been reported in Davidson and Iredell counties and one in Stanly.
Cartner said the Rowan Health Department has tested seven other people for the swine flu, but all have been negative. Though the department continues to get calls from concerned citizens and medical providers asking if they or their patients should be tested, she said none have met the criteria of being or having been in a summer camp, day-care center, long-term nursing and assisted-living center or hospital.
Others with symptoms of the flu are being encouraged to take the same precautions they would with the regular seasonal flu. Cartner said these include: staying home for several days to prevent spread; washing hands, particularly after coughing or sneezing; covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and staying away from large gatherings of people.
Though other staff members have taken calls from people asking about testing, Cartner said she personally has received at least two dozen.
Across the state, the number of confirmed swine flu cases has risen to 255 with 76 new cases reported since last Wednesday. Two North Carolinians have died from complications related to the swine flu.
The first was a Greensboro patient who recently underwent a heart procedure and returned to the hospital several days after being released, Moses Cone Health System said in a statement. The hospital system said the patient was in critical condition with severe pneumonia and died on June 19, hours after returning to seek medical care.
A second North Carolina death with a link to the swine flu was announced during the past week, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Web site.
The incidence of swine flu is higher in the 5 to 24 and 65 and older age groups. Cartner said this is different from the seasonal flu, which is reported in all ages, even though complications are more frequent in younger children and older adults.
“I don’t see that it’s tapering off,” she said of the swine flu. “With this occurring, it seems to be keeping the regular seasonal flu active.”
Cartner said the N.C. Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response sent out information Wednesday predicting the next wave of swine flu to arrive as early as September. Because flu viruses can mutate at any time, “the virulence of it is not predictable,” she said. “They’re expecting it to be highly transmissible.”
On June 11, the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert level from Phase 5 to Phase 6 indicating that an influenza pandemic is under way.
The decision to raise the pandemic alert level is a reflection of the spread of the disease, not the severity of the illness caused by the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.