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Health officials identify four 'probable' cases of swine flu in San Juan County

Eleanor Lehman gets a comforting hand from her mom as nurse Nancy Best administers a nasal H1N1 vaccine Oct. 19. Public health officials on Thursday received a shipment of of 200 doses of injectable vaccine and additional nasal vaccine.  - Contributed photo
Eleanor Lehman gets a comforting hand from her mom as nurse Nancy Best administers a nasal H1N1 vaccine Oct. 19. Public health officials on Thursday received a shipment of of 200 doses of injectable vaccine and additional nasal vaccine.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Odds were better than even that it was just a matter of time.

And it appears that the H1N1 influenza, commonly known as "swine flu", has gained a foothold in San Juan County.

Public health officials on Thursday announced that there are three "probable" cases of H1N1 on San Juan Island and one on Orcas. Results of a clinical "quick test" were positive for H1N1 influenza in each of those four cases and, according to county Health Officer Dr. Frank James, results of that quick test have proven to be reliable 98 percent of the time.

Negative test results, Dr. James noted, are not considered reliable and he suspects that other H1N1 cases have escaped detection.

“These test results simply confirm what we already knew,” Dr. James said. “H1N1 influenza is out there. This is just a further indication of how important it is for anyone who feels ill to stay home and rest - not only for the benefit of their own health, but for the health of the whole community.”

According to health officials, two of the three cases on San Juan and the one on Orcas involve 11 and 12 year-olds. The girl on Orcas appeared to be on the mend following an initial bout of nausea and several other symptoms which suggested she was suffering from a stomach virus. Her condition began to deteriorate Tuesday, highlighted by a fever and a cough.

On San Juan, one of the cases involves an 11-year-old boy who was taken to a doctor Monday, complaining of a cough, mild fever and a sore throat. Less information is available at this time about the two other cases; however, the condition of all four patients, according to health officials, are not considered serious enough to require hospitalization.

Meanwhile, the county public health department on Thursday received two small shipments of the H1N1 vaccine. Those shipments include 200 doses of injectable vaccine, suitable for those considered "most at-risk" in the local population, as well as 100 additional doses of the nasally administered vaccine, which is tailored for young children and otherwise healthy young adults, with exception of pregnant women or people with chronic illnesses or health problems.

Quantities on hand are still considered limited and are being given first to groups considered to have the highest health risks and at high risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Priority groups are: Caregivers of children less than six months, children of six months to four years, children 5-18 years of age and adults up to age 24 with chronic illness, and healthcare workers and emergency medical technicians with direct patient care.

Public health officials expect to receive regular shipments of vaccine and will broaden the groups eligible to receive it as quantities increase.

For information log onto the county website at: http://sanjuanco.com/flu/h1n1vaccine.aspx.

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