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Eight swine flu cases confirmed in Evanston

City health officials say the federal disease control center now has confirmed eight cases of H1N1 or swine flu in Evanston.


City health officials say the federal disease control center now has confirmed eight cases of H1N1 or swine flu in Evanston.

All of those with the illness here have either fully recovered or are on their way to a full recovery with no serious complications, said Carl Caneva, the city’s acting health director.

The confirmed cases have involved people ranging in age from 3 to 28 years old.

“We are urging people to take a very practical, common sense approach to this flu: wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough, and if you or your children are sick – stay home so you do not infect others,” Caneva says.

He says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now believes the virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses.

With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick.

Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Caneva re-emphasized that H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get this new H1N1 virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

The symptoms of this new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

The CDC now says “the primary means of reducing the spread of influenza in schools is to focus on early identification of ill students and staff, staying home when ill, and good cough and hand hygiene etiquette,” added Caneva.

“School closure is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of influenza A (H1N1) and, in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function.”

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against this new H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.

The health department recommends taking the following everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
  • Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so. Keep a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues, and other related items can be useful and will help to avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

More information is available online from the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department.

Persons with questions can call Evanston Health and Human Services at 847-866-2969 OR the CDC 24 hour information line at 800-232-4636.

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