Clearing up the H1N1 confusion

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - We have received lots of phone calls and e-mails from viewers reporting confirmed H1N1 outbreaks in schools. Just Monday, we received a call about a case at Lindale ISD where more than a dozen students reportedly had confirmed cases. But, it turns out that these cases were not confirmed. In fact, they were never sent away for testing.

It's the start of football season and a concerned parent called to say that at least 10 Lindale football players have confirmed cases of H1N1, but when questioned, Lindale ISD had different information, saying that several students had experienced flu-like symptoms, but that none of those students were confirmed to have the H1N1 flu.

It's an example of the confusion that surrounds the virus.

"Moms and parents are all concerned, and, now, with school starting back, we are seeing the typical runny nose and cold viruses going around and trying to distinguish between those and kids that are showing signs of H1N1," said Dr. Ken Haygood, a family physician.

A case of H1N1 is confirmed after it has been sent to a health lab for testing. But, health officials say unless pregnant, in the hospital, or after a death occurs, cases won't be sent off.

"They tested enough," said Russell Hopkins, with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. "They know it exists out in the public."

Instead, doctors like Haygood, do a rapid flu test for influenza "A."

"The test is real simple," explained Haygood. "It is basically like a nose swab. It is kind of like a rough q-tip and we just do a nose swab and within five or six minutes, we have results here in the office."

And, if results are positive, they assume it is H1N1.

"It is very much like the normal flu in the severity and length of time," said Hopkins. "Treatment is the same."

"There are a couple of prescription medicines that can be used," said Haygood. "Tamaflu and Relenza are the brand names for the ones prescribed and they have shown to be effective against the H1N1 virus."

So, no matter if it's a cold, seasonal flu, or H1N1, doctors say practicing good hygiene is key in calming these fears. State and regional health officials will meet Wednesday at Tyler Junior College to discuss how East Texas should respond if there is an H1N1 outbreak in the future.

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