Case of Pandemic H1N1 confirmed in Dougherty

Published 4:11 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

A 16-year-old Dougherty County male has been added to the list of Southwest Health District’s patients confirmed with Pandemic H1N1, says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

The teen’s case marks the first time that the novel influenza virus has been confirmed in Dougherty County and raises Southwest Health District’s tally of confirmed cases to 10.

“We were certainly not looking forward to this day, but we expected it, and, unfortunately, we expect to see more evidence that this infection is continuing to spread,” Grant said. “I am pleased to note that this young man, like the majority of H1N1 patients in this country, did not require hospitalization. He is being treated at home, and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

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In addition, a 5-year-old Thomas County boy whose diagnosis was confirmed at the Florida Public Health Laboratory has become the eighth Pandemic H1N1 case identified in Thomas County.

Colquitt County has the only other confirmed case in the Southwest Health District.

So far, this pandemic is continuing to be a mild to moderate disease, continued Grant, adding that most patients do well receiving care at home.

“Although the teenager resides in Dougherty County, he was identified as part of a Lowndes County investigation,” Grant said. “His situation is similar to cases being seen throughout Georgia and the rest of the country in which children and teens who participate in summer camps and programs are exposed to H1N1.”

To date, Pandemic H1N1 has been seen most commonly in children and young adults, with outbreaks in schools, childcare centers and residential camps. Groups at risk for complications from infections with H1N1 include pregnant women, people with suppressed immune systems or chronic disease, health care workers and obese people, she said.

The CDC estimates that a million people have been infected with H1N1 in the United States alone. Pandemic H1N1 has been confirmed in more than 100 countries.

“This strain of H1N1 is a true pandemic in that it has spread across the globe. Since disease investigators know it is everywhere, public health’s focus is no longer on tracking the number of cases, but in monitoring for increased severity in the disease,” Grant emphasized.

Testing is being performed in three circumstances: when clusters of influenza-like illness occur; on hospitalized patients with influenza-like illness; and by sentinel providers, the health care providers who routinely assist public health in monitoring seasonal flu.

In Georgia, 181 Pandemic H1N1 cases have been confirmed to date, including one fatality.