Six cases of swine flu confirmed in Nebraska

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 3:23 p.m. CDT

OMAHA, Neb. — Federal officials have confirmed three more swine flu cases in Nebraska, bringing the total to six, including four Nebraskans.

The three involve children ages 5 to 18 from Madison, Pierce and Sarpy counties. State authorities say all three have recovered or are recovering.

Nebraska's chief medical officer, Joann Schaefer, said Tuesday that another case, from Madison County, has been sent to the federal lab in Atlanta for confirmation. That takes the pending total there to six.

"Ninety-nine percent of the probable case specimens that states are sending to the Centers for Disease Control are turning into confirmed cases," Schaefer said. "We now have six probable cases pending there for confirmation, and, based on CDC's results, I think most, if not all, of them will be confirmed."

Previously confirmed cases include a Sarpy County woman in her 50s who had traveled to Mexico recently and had to be hospitalized. She has since been released.

The virus also sickened a California man in his 40s who was visiting the Omaha area. Officials believe he was exposed to the virus in the San Diego area, where he lives. He remains in Nebraska, Schaefer said Monday.

The other confirmed case is that of a 19-year-old Missouri man, though officials haven't said how he was exposed to the virus. He remains hospitalized in an Omaha-area hospital for a previous condition.

The outbreak has prompted some schools to close.

Symptoms of the illness include a fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus can be treated with anti-flu drugs, which lessen symptoms if taken within 48 hours of the first signs of illness. But there is no vaccine that prevents this new strain — a mix of pig, human and bird viruses to which people presumably have little natural immunity.

State health officials recommend that only those moderately or seriously ill seek medical treatment to prevent a strain on hospitals and doctors. They've also emphasized taking common-sense precautions such as frequent hand washing, covering coughs and staying home at the earliest signs of illness.


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