Southwest Georgia gets its first confirmed cases of H1N1 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

SW Georgia gets its first confirmed cases of H1N1

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Swine flu is now confirmed in south Georgia. Health officials confirm three cases of H-1N1 in our area.

They've been identified as a 12 year old boy, and a 40 year old man in Thomas County and one person involved in the GSU boys and girls camp in Bullock County although the person is from Sumter County.

Thursday the Southwest Georgia Health District said the boys grandparents were also treated for the disease because they could be at risk.

It's been 24 weeks since the CDC began monitoring the H1N1 virus. They now estimate as many as 1 million Americans have the virus. It's likely the disease has been here since Georgia first began confirming cases and since they're mild most have just let the disease run its course.

Typically the flu has run its course in southwest Georgia by now, but health officials are still seeing cases, likely because of the new novel strain of H1N1 virus.

"We have countries having influenza that don't normally have it now plus in the northern hemisphere it's tied into the southern hemisphere where its supposed to be right now," said DR. Craig Smith Infectious Disease Specialist.

Health officials say we're still experiencing that first wave of H1N1, and it's likely there are more waves to come.

"If you look historically every eight to ten years this isn't a year you'd expect it but because it's a new strain and younger people not having a memory with their antibodies for the strain then this might be a little bit more of a year," said Smith.

That's why those tips to prevent flu still hold true and should be common place practices.

"It's important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, making sure if you are sick or you have a sick child to stay home," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Georgia Health District Director.

For most flu cases, doctors have recommended letting it run its course. Those with confirmed cases and family members at risk are getting anti-virals to lessen the symptoms, but health officials want to ensure these remedies remain viable.

"What we don't want to see is that someone is infected with this particular strand this novel strain and then is co-infected with the seasonal strain and then we have a different strain that emerges that may be more resistant to treatment," said Grant.

A vaccine for the H1N1 virus is currently in production so it can be administered this fall, health officials say the CDC recommends people at risk get both an H1N1 and regular flu shot.

Health officials say they're no longer as concerned about where the cases of H1N1 are occurring, what they're watching for is to ensure the severity of the illness isn't changing.

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