CDC will no longer track H1-N1 cases -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

CDC will no longer track H1-N1 cases

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The CDC will no longer track H1-N1 cases. The symptoms are so much like seasonal flu, they'll lump both illnesses together.

Health officials estimate more than a million people have gotten some form of the flu in the last four months. The flu in Georgia has been widespread for several weeks, and cases continue to spike at colleges.

Some southwest Georgia schools are still seeing a higher rate of absences. Absences aren't system wide, but in some individual schools they've been as high as 10 percent. Health officials say that's why businesses and communities need to continue to plan on workers being out.

Lee County only has eight firefighters on a shift to cover the entire county. If just a few are sick it's a problem, that's why they've asked department heads to finalize their pandemic flu contingency plans.

"Every department in the county plays a vital role, even these employees that are the firemen, policemen and medics they still want to see their check and their insurance and all those things the people behind the scenes take care of," said Lee County EMA Director Chief James Howell.

They've also relaxed the absentee policy to keep healthy workers well.

"If they're ache and have a fever they need to stay at home they don't need to come to work," said Howell.

Health officials say some schools are still reporting high absences letting them know H1N1 still has a grip in southwest Georgia, but now they're simply looking at it as the flu.

"It is going to be hard to distinguish because, we're not, we don't have the capabilities nor are they asking us to test everyone," said Southwest Georgia Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

Instead they're asking everyone to stay informed, for businesses to wipe down areas around sick employees, for individuals to keep up with hand washing, and eventually they'll make getting questions answered as simple as calling the city's (229)878-3111 information line.

"Knowing where to call and get those answers is very important and we're going to try and provide that to the public," said Cindy Tiernan, Albany Call Center Manager.

Dr. Grant said health officials continue to study the results of the H1N1 vaccine that's being tested on some patients.

They're still looking at whether a single dose is effective or if a double dose will be administered when the vaccine is available later this fall. Six states are now considered to have widespread H1-N1 Flu activity. Nearly all are in the southeast.

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