Posted April 30. Officials at St. Francis Hospital,355 Ridge Ave., say they are hoping to learn as early as tomorrow the results from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of a possible case of the swine influenza virus. Margo Schaefer, public relations director for St. Francis, told the RoundTable the turnaround “was supposed to be 48 hours, but with the flood of testing they have to do now, it could be as much as seven or eight days.”
Ms. Schaefer added the hospital is “continuing to follow all guidelines” set by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
As of April 30, the City’s Department of Health and Human Services released the following information “regarding the nine confirmed probable” cases in Illinois: The age range is from 6 years to 57 years old. There are five cases in Cook County (Chicago), two in Kane County and one each in DuPage and Lake counties. “Confirmed probable cases,” said Evonda Thomas, the City’s director of health and human services, “result in a 99 percent chance that the initial screening and all additional indicators are met for influenza A (H1N1), swine flu.” Ms. Thomas said she encourages everyone to “Think preparedness, think prevention.”
Ms. Schaefer said St. Francis Hospital recommends that persons who feel they may have the swine flu call their own physicians rather than report to an emergency room. “Then the doctor can decide whether or not to refer the person to a hospital.” Consulting a physician first will save time and be less expensive than heading immediately to an emergency room. “Swine flu can spread rapidly but it is not expected to be deadly,” she added.
Ari Robicsek, M.D. of NorthShore University HealthSystem said there has been “increases in the emergency department at Evanston Hospital by people concerned they might have influenza.” Because of this, the hospital has focused on the safety of patients and staff, increasing the number of masks and respirators available, taking employees’ temperature as they show up for work and educating employees about what they should do, should they exhibit flu-like symptoms.”
CDC or IDPH must confirm a swine-flu diagnosis, said Dr. Robicsek, who is director of infection control for NorthShore. He added, though, that tests performed at a hospital “give us a pretty good idea of who has the virus and who does not. We believe our tests can help us rule out [those who do not have the virus].”
Although the swine flu “has generally been mild in the U.S.”, Dr. Robicsek said, a lot remains to be learned about it.
At Northwestern University, Dirk Brockmann, associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, is leading a research group that has completed large-scale computer simulations that show worst-case scenario projections of approximately 1,700 cases of swine flu for the entire United States four weeks from now.
The major areas shown to have incidents in the worst-case scenario include California, Texas and Florida. More than 100 cases are projected for the Chicago area. The affected locations largely correspond to major transportation hubs in the country. The researchers also will be running simulations on the possible time course of the spread of swine flu in Europe.
Prof. Brockmann said his group’s swine flu results are in “excellent agreement” with those of a research group at Indiana University led by Alex Vespignani that is using a different method. “The Indiana group uses a different computational approach, and the agreement of our results is promising and an indicator of reliability in both methods,” Prof. Brockmann said.
A map of the United States showing the four-week projection is available at http://rocs.northwestern.edu/projects/swine_flu/.
Anyone with questions about swine flu may contact the City of Evanston‘s Department of Health and Human Services, 847-866-2969.
Posted April 29. The City’s Department of Health and Human Services is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the recent swine flu outbreak in an effort to protect the citizens of Evanston.
To date, the CDC has found 20 human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) in the United States; there are no known cases in Illinois at this time.
Swine influenza, swine flu, is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus. Typically, humans are not infected with swine flu, but infections can occur. Although human cases typically involve people who have had direct contact with pigs, the CDC has established human-to-human transmission among these recent cases.
Health officials are working diligently to determine the source of human infection, whether additional people have been infected with similar swine flu viruses and to fully assess the health impact of this swine flu virus.
Since many people travel from, to and through Illinois, it is imperative to take precautions against illness. People who have recently traveled to impacted areas and have flu symptoms need to see a doctor and be tested for swine flu – sooner rather than later.
Dr. Damon Arnold, medical director of IDPH, has alerted local health departments regional offices of IDPH; and hospital infection control practitioners, administrators, emergency departments and laboratories throughout the state to make clinicians aware of the possibility of swine influenza virus (SIV) infections. They have also been alerted to patients with seasonal influenza with fever and respiratory discomfort who have traveled recently to one of the locations where reported cases have been found: Mexico as well as parts of California and Texas, or have been exposed to persons who traveled there.
Seasonal flu symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing.
Reported swine flu symptoms also include runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
This outbreak of swine flu in humans has the potential to expand or decease. Just as a tropical storm can lose force and die out, so can this outbreak. But a tropical storm can also become much more powerful and turn into a hurricane, as can this outbreak, which is why health officials in Illinois, the U.S. and the world are taking aggressive steps to stop its spread and reduce the impacts.
Swine Flu Facts
The City’s Department of Health and Human Services recommends taking the following precautions:
· Cover your cough or sneeze.
· Wash your hands frequently.
· See your doctor if you have fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
· If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others to avoid the spread of infection.
· Do not expect a seasonal flu shot to protect against swine flu.
· Swine flu is not transmitted by food; persons cannot get swine influenza from eating pork products. However it is always recommended to thoroughly cook pork to avoid food-borne illness.
CDC Website Information
CDC has created a webpage with information and updates. Visit
.gov/flu/swine> or call 1-800-CDC-INFO. In Spanish,
Anyone with further questions may call Evonda Thomas, director of health and human services, at 847 866-2969.
Traveling to Mexico?
Anyone planning travel to Mexico should follow these recommendations to reduce the risk of infection: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentSwineFluMexico.aspx
People returning from travel to Mexico should pay close attention to their health for seven days. Anyone who becomes sick with a fever plus a cough and sore throat or who has trouble breathing during this period should see a doctor. Anyone with these symptoms should stay home except to get medical care. Limiting contact with others can help prevent the spread of an infectious illness.