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State swine flu tally adds first Kauai cases


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POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

The state Health Department confirmed 83 new cases of swine flu in the past week, including the first two cases on Kauai.

The additional H1N1 influenza A cases raise the state's total to 198 since the outbreak began May 5, but state Health Director Chiyome Fukino said the numbers “;are expected and not alarming.”;

“;The number of cases will continue to rise as we identify more cases due to community transmission,”; she said in a news release.

Of the new cases, all patients have recovered or are recovering at home with no complications, she said.

While no hospitalizations have been reported among Hawaii's H1N1 cases, the World Health Organization is concerned about an increase in severe illness from the virus in Canada and a jump in cases in Australia.

As a result, WHO said Tuesday it may be pressed to announce the first flu pandemic in 41 years.

Hawaii's Health Department, now reporting confirmed cases only on Wednesdays, announced that the past week's total included 78 on Oahu, two on the Big Island, two on Kauai and one on Maui who became ill on the mainland.

Since the first three cases in Hawaii were reported May 5, Oahu has had a total of 190 cases; the Big Island, four; Kauai, two; and Maui, two.

The department said it has investigated and followed up on more than 1,100 residents tested.

The state Laboratories Division does subtype testing every workday on 60 to 120 specimens, the department said.

Hawaii has three influenza type A strains—the H1N1 swine strain and two seasonal type A flu strains, subtyped H1 and H3.

Five to 10 percent of cases that have tested positive for Influenza A are are H1N1; five to 10 percent are seasonal H1 influenza; and 80-90 percent are seasonal H3 influenza, the department said.

The health agency stopped identifying whether cases were adults or children on June 3, so the Department of Education doesn't know how many students became ill before schools ended their spring sessions, said spokeswoman Sandra Goya.

The last report the schools had was on May 29, she said. As of that date a total of 31 children and two adults had been infected.

The Health Department asks anyone to call a doctor if they have a fever higher than 100 degrees and a sore throat or cough.

People are advised to stay home if they are sick to avoid spreading the virus. Home care guidelines for the flu are on the department Web site at http://www.hawaii. gov/health.

Information on H1N1 influenza is available by calling Aloha United Way's 211, which has interpretation and TDD/TTY services.

Health officials stress good hygiene to avoid flu viruses—washing hands, covering a cough or sneeze and not touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.