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Swine flu pervasive but danger minimal, says Dept. of Health


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POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swine flu is spreading through the community, with 205 confirmed cases in the past week, the state Department of Health reported.

The number raises the total to 503 cases of the novel H1N1 flu in Hawaii since the first outbreak May 5.

The tally last week showed four cases on the Big Island, three on Kauai, three on Maui and the rest on Oahu.

No island breakdown was available for cases the past week because some are still being investigated, said Janice Okubo, Health Department spokes-woman.

The department is continuing to identify and investigate suspected H1N1 cases but will no longer issue updates on the number of cases, she said.

Updated information may be obtained by calling 211 or going to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ update.htm.

“;Most U.S. cases have not been severe and are comparable in severity to seasonal influenza,”; the CDC reported. “;CDC and local and state health officials will continue to closely monitor the severity and spread of this novel H1N1 influenza outbreak.”;

Okubo said there have been no severe cases or hospitalizations in Hawaii for swine flu, although there have been severe cases of seasonal flu.

The six department staff members following up on confirmed H1N1 influenza cases in the investigations unit are trying to resume their work involving other infectious diseases, Okubo said.

The department has investigated and followed up on more than 1,400 people tested for Influenza A, according to its Web site.

The state Laboratories Division does subtype testing on about 60 to 120 Influenza A specimens each work day. Of those testing positive, 40 to 45 percent are novel H1N1 swine flu, 5 to 10 percent are seasonal H1 influenza and 40 to 45 percent are seasonal H3 Influenza.

Residents are advised to follow prevention measures—washing hands often, covering a cough or sneeze and properly disposing of tissues for runny noses.

Anyone with symptoms of seasonal or novel swine flu should stay home from work or school, the Health Department advises.