H1N1 outbreak reported in two dozen cases in Chicago

Friday, December 27, 2013
By Paul Martin

December 27, 2013

CHICAGO – Nearly two dozen cases of the potentially deadly H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in the Chicago area, CBS 2 has learned. Finding the flu virus among patients at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood is keeping special machines working overtime right now. Seven patients at Loyola tested positive for Influenza A on Christmas Eve. Five of them had the H1N1 strain known as swine flu. They’ve detected a sudden burst of the 2009 swine flu spreading right here in the Chicago area. Microbiologist Paul Schreckenberger says last week alone, 21 patients tested positive for Influenza A. All but one of those cases were the 2009 H1N1 swine flu. “We don’t know why it’s emerging,” Schreckenberger says. He says people may have gotten a false sense of security over the last couple of flu seasons, which were comparatively mild. In Texas, the rush is on for flu shots. The very flu shots that Texans Dustin Wright, and his wife, Ashley, never received. Dustin was hit with H1N1 flu strain, or swine flu, and he died Dec. 5. “You don’t think it will happen to you,” Ashley says. H1N1 is causing 80 percent of the flu infections this year in Texas. It’s the same strain that triggered a nationwide pandemic in 2009. But at that time, it was new. Now, it’s not, and the current flu vaccine offers protection. “That really is, in terms of prevention and protection, the best method, in terms of reducing transmission or spread of influenza,” Rush University Medical Center physician Alexander Tomich says. But remember, it takes two weeks after you get the shot to build up the anti-bodies that provide protection from the flu. So, the earlier you get it the better. According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of all Americans get a flu shot each year. –CBS

H1N1 claims another life in Texas: A Houston teenager has died of the H1N1 flu virus. Health officials aren’t divulging much in the way of details but they are sounding the alarm. “Well people should be concerned because influenza is a preventable illness. It’s a miserable illness. Most people will do just fine and recover in about a week but some people could go on and develop a very serious illness,” said Kathy Barton with the City of Houston’s Department of Health and Human Services. Or as in this sad case, die. As a matter of fact thirty thousand people will die of influenza in this country this year and the strain that is showing up the most in labs this year is the H1N1. Houston now has its first death. Harris County has had three deaths. Montgomery County has four suspected and Jefferson County has had two cases but no deaths. The flu season has been bad this year and especially bad in Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control it is widespread. But it has tapered off over the Christmas vacation. Officials expect to see more cases as kids head back to school so here’s some advice. Get flu shot. Practice good social hygiene. Maintain good space between you and other people. Cover your cough or sneeze. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face and if sick stay home. Health officials really hammer home point number one. “The H1N1 is covered in this year’s vaccine formulation and it’s important for kids to get their shot’s because children are infections for two to three days before they start showing symptoms,” said Barton. And the H1N1 is most prevalent in kids. -Fox

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