Swine flu spreads to the Big Island


POSTED: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The first two Big Island cases of swine flu were among 14 new cases reported yesterday by the state Department of Health.

Nine cases were confirmed by the Health Department's Laboratories Division on Friday night and five Saturday, making a total of 58 cases since the first three were confirmed May 5.

The latest H1N1 influenza A cases include six adults and eight school-age children, including one non-public school child.

The two Big Island cases are school-age children, the Health Department said. One became ill while traveling in another state, and the other had contact with a confirmed case, it said.

Oahu's 12 new cases include two school-age children who acquired the illness while traveling in another state, one school-age child who had contact with a previously confirmed case, one adult who had contact with a previous case and two cases at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a student and a staff employee.

The first H1N1 influenza cases were reported by the Department of Education at Aikahi Elementary in Kailua, Iliahi Elementary in Wahiawa, Kapolei Middle School and Nanakuli High and Intermediate. Mililani Middle School had a second case involving a student.

All cases were reported to be mild, and those infected have recovered or are at home recovering.

Letters were sent home yesterday to parents of students at Aikahi and Iliahi elementary schools, Kapolei Middle and Nanakuli High and Intermediate schools. Mililani Middle notified parents via the school Web site.

“;The number of cases is not alarming since we know community transmission is taking place,”; state Health Director Chiyome Fukino said in a news release. “;To date, this novel H1N1 virus is behaving similar to seasonal flu, and individuals are recovering at home with no complications.”;

Of 60 to 80 positive specimens tested each workday by the Laboratories Division, 5 percent to 10 percent have been positive for the so-called swine flu, the Health Department said.

The department has investigated and followed up on more than 800 people tested for influenza A, but most are seasonal flu cases.

The department will renew its “;Stop Flu at School”; program in elementary and middle schools in the fall. Parents will receive consent forms to allow their children to participate.

Nationally a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said yesterday the H1N1 virus “;may have passed its peak”; in the United States, Bloomberg News reported.

Anne Schuchat, CDC interim deputy director for science and public health, said in a conference call with reporters that reports of flulike illnesses have returned to normal levels in most of the country.

The U.S. had confirmed 6,764 cases in 48 states as of yesterday, CDC said.