Two more cases of swine flu reported in Rowan County
By Kathy Chaffin
Two more cases of the H1N1 flu, more commonly known as the swine flu, have been reported in Rowan County.
Sharon Owen, nursing director for the Rowan County Health Department, said they were youths between the ages of 11 and 15 who had attended a camp in Virginia. The youths exhibited flu-like symptoms, she said, and were treated by their physicians on an outpatient basis.
Owen said other youths attending the camp from various other locations also tested positive for the flu.
The two cases, reported to the Health Department on July 6, increased the total number of cases in Rowan so far to four.
A 3-year-old who attended a Cabarrus County day-care center was the first case and was reported to the Health Department on June 11.
Another 3-year-old in the day care, who lives in Cabarrus, also tested positive for swine flu.
The second case, reported July 1, was an adolescent who attended a camp in Georgia. Several others at the camp tested positive for the flu.
Owen said the criteria for testing has changed now that health officials know the flu is present in Rowan County. So unless the case is determined to be high risk, private physicians are doing the tests.
Health Department Director Leonard Wood said his staff is concerned about the cases and plans to make sure people are getting the correct information and taking the appropriate action to reduce risk of spread.
Nora Cartner, adult public health nurse supervisor for the department, has said people with symptoms of swine flu are encouraged to take the same precautions they would with the regular seasonal flu. She said this includes staying home for several days to prevent spread; washing hands, particularly after coughing and sneezing; covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and staying away from large gatherings of people.
The swine flu is different from the seasonal flu in that the incidence is higher in the 5 to 24 and 65 and older age groups. The seasonal flu, however, is reported in all ages, though complications are more frequent in younger children and older adults.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Web site, which was updated Wednesday, reports 395 confirmed cases in North Carolina, with 84 new cases in the past week. The number of cases for counties surrounding Rowan are as follows: Cabarrus, four; Davidson, two; Iredell, three; and Stanly, one. Davie County has not had any confirmed cases.
There have been four deaths in North Carolina linked to swine flu, two in Guilford County, one in Carteret and one in Wilson.
The Web site says most people recover from seasonal flu in a week or two, but some develop life-threatening complications such as pneumonia.
Every year, it reports, between 1,000 and 2,000 people in the state die of seasonal flu and pneumonia.
Owen said Rowan health officials have not received any information that would indicate any mutations in the swine flu. Their last conference call with state health officials was on July 7, she said, and the next one is not scheduled until August.
Cartner said earlier that the N.C. Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response had sent out information predicting the next wave of swine flu would 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.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.