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3 suspected flu cases on Oahu


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The state does not plan to close schools or trace fellow airline travelers of a soldier and a child who may have brought back the H1N1 flu bug from recent mainland trips.

New laboratory testing materials just put into use Saturday revealed a “;presumptive positive”; for the influenza strain in three Oahu residents, including the soldier, spouse and the unrelated child.

;[Preview]    Three Possible Cases of H1N1 Flu In Hawaii
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Health officials are waiting for lab confirmation on three unconfirmed Hawaii cases of the H1N1 flu.

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Results are expected today or tomorrow from the Centers for Disease Control, which is doing testing on the local samples. If confirmed, it will add Hawaii to the list of 36 states where the swine-related virus has been found.

Emergency measures to keep the flu from spreading are not considered necessary because the patients remained at home under self-imposed quarantine when they got ill, according to the state Department of Health.

The child returned from California and the soldier returned from Texas last month. The spouse became ill after exposure to the illness, the department said in a release. The child does not attend a public school, according to the state Department of Education. A Tripler Medical Center spokesman confirmed the soldier is in the Army. Beyond that, authorities cited privacy rights while refusing to identify the patients even by the area where they live or by gender.

The three people have mild cases and recovered at home, said Gov. Linda Lingle in announcing “;probable”; cases of the H1N1 flu at a news conference yesterday. “;The Department of Health is taking all sorts of steps,”; she said when asked whether people who were in contact with the patients were being notified.

The governor said, “;In the case of the military person, they were actually confined to their housing on the military base while it ran its course.”;

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said, “;We were not required to tell the school because the child didn't go to school after the trip. The child had a fever and stayed home.”;

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division, said school closing is not necessary. But the child sneezed on a health care worker who developed a sore throat 36 hours later, Park said in the news release. The health care worker tested negative for either seasonal flu virus or the new H1N1 strain.

More than 30 samples from island patients with flulike symptoms are moving through the testing process by the state Laboratories Division, Okubo said. Most of them were forwarded from private laboratories.

The state laboratories received testing materials from the Centers for Disease Control Saturday and began testing. The CDC in Atlanta requires states to forward the tests for confirmation until satisfied that the state is in line with federal procedure and may be left to make the determination on its own.

Several samples from military personnel have been sent to the state for testing, said Les Ozawa, Tripler Army Medical Center public affairs officer. “;We identified several individuals with flulike symptoms who have traveled recently to areas with confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus,”; he said.


Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori contributed to this report.