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Crawford prepares for H1N1 influenza

September 02, 2009
According to a report released by the Crawford County Health Department last week, Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Monroe has indicated that 98 percent of the influenza cases presented in August were H1N1.

"Hoosiers should assume that the H1N1 flu virus is everywhere," Monroe said.

However, county health department officials, as of Friday, said there were no confirmed cases in the county.

Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Pre-vention is recommending basic everyday guidelines and at the top of the list is handwashing. The list advises people to:

•Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective if water is not available.

•Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough into your sleeve. Properly dispose of tissues.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

•Try to avoid contact with sick people. If you're sick, stay home, especially if you have a fever. (Children must be fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication before they can return to school or day care.)

The CDC released a list of influenza symptoms that include fever (may last three to five days), muscle aches, headaches, lack of energy (may last for two or more weeks), dry cough, sore throat and possible runny nose, diarrhea and/or vomiting.

The novel H1N1 vaccine is expected to be out sometime in the fall. It also is expected that those who receive it will need two doses, with the second dose given three weeks after the first. The H1N1 vaccine is thought to be safe to administer along with the regular seasonal influenza vaccination. Priority groups to receive the vaccine include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age, health care and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of six months and 24 years, and those 25 years through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for the H1N1 because of chronic health disorders and/or compromised immune systems.

Although there are no confirmed cases — per CDC — in Crawford County, the county health department has received a few reports where individuals were seen at their doctor's office but not tested. They merely presented the associated signs and symptoms of influenza and are being treated as H1N1 (Influenza A) cases.

Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of Crawford County Community School Corp., and school nurse Donna Huff said the schools are taking every precaution to prevent the influenza virus from becoming a problem. Students are encouraged to wash their hands often, and buses are being wiped down with disinfectant regularly, as are school desks, doorknobs, etc.

School officials added that an outbreak of the flu that affected a large number of students in one of the county schools would trigger a notification to parents and the community.

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