PDT Staff Writer
“There are no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Scioto County at the present time.”
That’s the official message from authorities at Southern Ohio Medical Center.
In a news release issued Monday morning, an SOMC statement said: “As of May 4, 2009, Scioto County has sent four specimens for further testing to the Ohio Department of Health. These specimens are not confirmed as H1N1 influenza.
Most suspected cases that have been sent across the United States have tested negative for the H1N1 strain. There are no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Scioto County at the present time.”
A(H1N1), is a subtype of influenza A and the most common cause of influenza (flu) in humans. Some strains of H1N1 are endemic in humans, including the strain(s) responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic which killed 50–100 million people worldwide.
So far there are no suspected cases of H1N1 flu in the area. But regional medical authorities are watching closely anyone with symptoms that are synonymous with the H1N1 virus.
Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams said he is aware of one suspected case being looked at.
“I know of one that was sent off for sure,” Adams said. “Only one has been sent off to Columbus to be confirmed.”
Adams said when symptoms merit consideration, specimens are sent to Columbus, “for a culture and further investigation and evaluation if they test positive for Influenza A,” Adams said. “We don’t have the ability to break it down here locally for the H1N1. We can test positive for Influenza A. Then we send it to Columbus for further testing for the genetics, H1N1or whatever it might be, such as H5N1, whatever they are looking for. In this case it’s H1N1.”
Adams said when a specimen is sent to Columbus there is normally a 48- to 72-hour turnaround time in receiving the results back to local health authorities, and the one specimen was sent off around Wednesday or Thursday last week.
“I would have to say at this point we should hear something before long,” Adams said. “I think basically you are starting to see more results right now because what has happened is that things were kind of backlogged, and they are getting some of the information out. That’s why more cases are popping up across the country.”
Adams said health authorities were hit with a load of cases right after the discovery of the virus began, making it impossible for them to investigate them quickly.
“They picked the ones they felt were higher risk based upon being either directly exposed, or having a fever within seven days,” Adams said.
Adams said cases being investigated fall into three categories — suspected, probable and confirmed.
The call to Adams followed a call to Jackson County health authorities after an anonymous call to the Portsmouth Daily Times that a 31-year-old Wellston woman had been taken to Holzer Medical Center in Jackson with suspected symptoms.
Greg Ervin, Jackson County Health Commissioner, said Monday morning he was on a conference call with the 10 counties involved in the region, and he had received no information there was a suspected case in Jackson County.
“(Manager of Nursing Support Services at HMC-J) Susan Moore just came back for our 11 (a.m.) conference call and she didn’t have any information on a 31-year-old female transported to Holzer Medical Center in Jackson for H1N1 type symptoms,” Ervin said.
Ervin said it would take a period of time to run the test if there was a suspected case.
Ervin said the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday reported what he referred to as a “false suspect case” in Jackson County — “That was corrected in Sunday’s article,” Ervin said.
As of Sunday, the United States had recorded 245 cases in 35 states. Mexican officials lowered their flu alert level in the capital on Monday and said they will allow cafes, museums and libraries to reopen this week. World health officials weighed raising their pandemic alert to the highest level.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.