06/05/09 — Details are few on H1N1 infection

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Details are few on H1N1 infection

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 5, 2009 1:46 PM

Details on the case of swine flu diagnosed this week at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base remain sparse, with health officials saying they cannot completely identify where the patient is located and if there are others in his immediate family who might be sick.

Despite the secrecy, local health officials still maintain there is no cause for alarm in the community.

"We're very restricted on the kind of information that we can release, not only professionally but legally, in what we can give in details," said Bill Furney of the North Carolina Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. "I believe the information that was released by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base public affairs office, frankly, they gave more information than I could have."

Furney said his office is not concerned too much about where the patient acquired the flu, since H1N1 seems to be "everywhere" at this point.

"We're hearing of cases all over," he said. "The risk now is the same regardless of where the person came from."

Wayne County Health Director James Roosen said he is satisfied that a travel history has been done by the base.

"I don't think there was anything significant found, such as their having recently returned from Mexico or New York," or any area where an outbreak had been earlier reported, he said.

"The only thing I can say is that we're dealing with a virus that's probably everywhere and being spread by people who may not know that they have this virus."

Roosen maintained that the base did a "fantastic job" conducting the contact tracing, determining who was exposed and how.

"There wasn't any extensive travel," he said this morning. "The disease report card was filed at the Health Department and sent to Raleigh, but it's private. There's no way that the media can get that."

Furney also confirmed that the report was considered "confidential" and could not be accessed today.

Further details on the patient are also being kept under wraps.

Roosen would only say, "We're not concerned about that. I think everything has been taken care of as far as everything we can do with the investigation -- determining who's at risk, if it poses any risk to the community -- we have already looked at that and covered those bases."

Ken Derksen, public information officer with Wayne County Public Schools, said the district takes its cues from the Health Department as far as what steps need to be taken in a situation such as this.

"As far as I know there were no family members that are in the school system and there weren't any in day care, if there were children," he said. "If there were, they were young, but there was nothing impacting the schools."

Amy Cain, director of public relations at Wayne Memorial Hospital, said today that community reaction to the H1N1 news has been calm.

"In the Emergency Department, we have only had a few phone calls from folks wanting clarification on symptoms," Ms. Cain said. "There has been no spike of activity -- not even a spike in anxiety other than those few phone calls."