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StarBulletin.com

State to scale back on swine flu reports


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POSTED: Saturday, May 30, 2009

The state Department of Health is shifting next week from daily to weekly updates of swine flu cases “;to ease the burden on the staff,”; said spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

“;It was important initially to characterize the outbreak with numbers,”; she said. “;Now that we know there is community transmission, numbers aren't as important as it is to stress prevention measures.”;

The department confirmed nine new cases of H1N1 Influenza A yesterday—six adults and three school-age children, all on Oahu. All have recovered or are recovering at home, health officials said.

The three schoolchildren include the first case at Kaimuki High, the fourth at Mililani Middle and the second at Niu Valley Middle, the Department of Education reported. Hawaii public schools have seen 33 cases of the novel virus.

No serious illnesses have been reported since the outbreak began here with three confirmed cases May 5. All confirmed cases in Hawaii have been mild, health officials said.

The state has had 82 cases to date—79 on Oahu, two on the Big Island and a Maui resident who tested positive for the illness in another state and was hospitalized briefly before returning to Maui.

Okubo said the federal government also is expected to scale back on reporting cases of H1N1 influenza with cases waning across the country.

She said many states have gone to once-a-week reporting, and “;many are not even testing all Influenza A cases—only critical cases and specific cases they identify as significant.”;

“;We are continuing to test all Influenza A cases, but you can't compare the states because they're doing different types of testing,”; she said.

The Health Department has investigated more than 800 people tested for Influenza A.

The next case update will be posted at 11 a.m. Wednesday on the department Web site at http://www.hawaii.gov/health. Updates thereafter will be posted each Wednesday at 11 a.m., the Health Department said.

People who want to track numbers can go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, cdc.gov, which posts Hawaii numbers, Okubo said.