South Dakota has ‘probable’ flu caseThe South Dakota Health Department’s lab has identified the state’s first probable case of swine flu in a Marshall County resident, and a specimen has been sent to a federal lab for further testing, officials said Thursday.
By: Chet Brokaw, Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Health Department’s lab has identified the state’s first probable case of swine flu in a Marshall County resident, and a specimen has been sent to a federal lab for further testing, officials said Thursday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta will get the sample Friday and should report during the weekend whether it is a confirmed case of swine flu, state Health Secretary Doneen Hollingsworth said.
The infected person is in the 30-39 age group and is recovering at home. The person was not hospitalized and did not require antiviral medication, but has been asked to stay home until seven days have elapsed since the person first became sick. The person’s family members also are being monitored for symptoms.
Health Department staff are talking with the family to identify other people they have been in contact with, Hollingsworth said.
State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said the infected person had not traveled outside South Dakota. Officials do not know how the person got the virus that is suspected to be swine flu, he said.
The CDC and officials in some states had reported nearly 130 confirmed swine flu cases in the U.S., but only one confirmed death in the nation, a 23-month-old boy from Mexico who died in Texas.
Hollingsworth said the state health lab tested 115 other samples Thursday that turned out not to be swine flu. Another 114 negative tests were done earlier in the week.
“Given the nature of this outbreak, we’ve been saying from the beginning we expected to find cases as we increased our surveillance. That’s exactly what happened,” Hollingsworth said.
“I think this is a time for caution and a time for prevention. It is not a time for panic,” the health secretary said.
Hollingsworth said most U.S. cases of swine flu have been no more severe then regular flu.
“It’s easy to prevent by these basic, commonsense measures,” she said.
Hollingsworth said people first should make sure to wash their hands frequently, and use an antiseptic hand gel when soap and water are not available. When people cough or sneeze, they should cover their mouths and noses with tissues. And disinfectant wipes can be used on telephones and other surfaces at home and work places, she said.
“If you’re sick enough you would normally seek medical attention, please do so,” Hollingsworth said.
Kightlinger said families also should learn as much as they can about flu and make a plan for how they would stay at home and handle things if someone in the family gets sick.
Hollingsworth said South Dakota already has 80,000 courses of antiviral medicine, Tamiflu and Relenza, on hand. Another 29,000 doses, or a quarter of South Dakota’s share of the national stockpile, also is being shipped to the state, she said.
None of the state’s stockpile has been distributed around the state yet because pharmacies have about 8,000 courses, enough to handle the situation so far, she said.
Kightlinger said the state health lab is able to keep up with the testing of samples sent from around the state. “The lab is working hard. They’re handling it.”
Hollingsworth said the lab routinely tests a lot of samples and the swine flu surveillance is not causing any backlog or budget problems. “That’s our job. That’s what we do.”
The health secretary said the CDC is distributing kits that specifically test for swine flu to states, but states with the largest number of cases are getting the kits first.
“It’s not a matter of us not having the expertise to do this,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s just a matter of getting the kits.”