H1N1 virus confirmed in County; caution urged

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“Everybody calm down”.

That’s the advice from county and state officials after the news that five people at Camp Livingston near Bennington had tested positive for the H1N1 Influenza A virus – commonly known as Swine Flu.

As word spread on Friday that five people had tested positive, rumors also started to swirl about the health and well being of county residents and staff at the camp.

According to Chris See, County Health and Safety Coordinator, all five persons were from out of town and had come to camp for the week. Federal health regulations prohibited him from disclosing the names and hometowns of the people, but he did say that campers who come to Camp Livingston are from “several states”.

Both campers and camp counselors were among those testing positive.

As for camp staff and administrators who live here in Switzerland County, no one has tested positive for H1N1 influenza; no local person is in the hospital with the illness; and no one has shown signs of being ill with the flu.

RUMORS SWIRLING

“We don’t want to induce panic, but we want everyone to know that the H1N1 virus has been introduced into Switzerland County,” Chris See said. “The Switzerland County Health Department and the agencies and people who we are in contact with are monitoring the situation. Just as before, we are urging people to use common sanitary practices – wash their hands and use tissues and then discard the tissues. Don’t drink after other people. Just use common sense.”

Where the rumors have been most troubling have been with the high school students who work summer jobs at the camp. Most of those students are involved in high school athletics and activities, but health officials say that there is no reason why those students cannot maintain their normal schedules.

Chris See said that Dr. Scott Frede, Switzerland County Health Officer; Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Monroe, and members of the board of Camp Livingston all met together on Thursday, June 25th, and it was decided that the best course of action was to close the camp for a short period of time.

“After working closely with the Indiana State Department of Health, we made the difficult decision to close the camp for a minimum of seven days to break the cycle of infection among campers and staff,” Ben Davis, Camp Livingston Executive Director, said in a press release from the Indiana State Department of Health.

Chris See said that the illness was contained, and that all necessary steps were taken and continue to be taken to make sure that everything is fine.

TIMELINE

Chris See provided the following timeline of events:

– Tuesday, June 23rd: tests were performed on five individuals who became ill while attending Camp Livingston. After testing, all five tested positive for influenza A.

– Wednesday, June 24th: Nasal swabs were performed on the five people who were ill. Those swabs were then sent to the Indiana State Lab for testing.

– Thursday, June 25th: Results of the nasal swabs were confirmed in the afternoon that all five were positive for H1N1. All five were sent home.

County and state health officials met with Camp Livingston officials, who made the decision to temporarily close the camp.

All remaining campers and counselors were sent home; and camp staff was informed of the situation.

Chris See said that there were about 210 people at the camp, including campers, counselors, and staff.

He estimated that, of those, about 12 people are local staff members.

PREVENTION

The best course of action in dealing with H1N1 is the same as it has been even before cases were confirmed here:

Prevention.

Chris See said that everyone should make sure to wash their hands and use tissues; and he also said that if a person begins to feel ill, they should call their family doctor prior to going to the doctor’s office.

Those who feel ill with flu-like symptoms should also take some time off of work, rather than trying to “fight through” an illness.

“Overall hygiene is the best way to prevent it,” Chris See said.

But what’s really important is that no one panic.

According to the Center for Disease Control, H1N1 has now been found in al 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The last posting shows 27,717 confirmed cases; so it isn’t surprising that at some point the illness would find its way to Switzerland County.

– Pat Lanman

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Here is the press release from the Indiana State Department of Health on Friday, June 26th, concerning the H1N1 confirmation in Switzerland County:

INDIANAPOLIS - Camp Livingston, a residential Jewish Camp near Bennington, will close temporarily as a result of five confirmed cases of the novel H1N1 influenza A virus.

“After working closely with the Indiana State Department of Health, they made the difficult decision to close the camp for a minimum of seven days to break the cycle of infection among campers and staff,” said Ben Davis, Camp Livingston Executive Director.

The symptoms of novel H1N1 influenza A are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people have also reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“The Indiana State Department of Health is working closely with all of their partners to monitor the health of those associated with Camp Livingston,” said State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. “We continue to follow the guidance and measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of the virus.”

Hoosiers are reminded to follow basic precautionary measures to prevent the spread of a cold, influenza, or any infectious disease, including:

– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, rather than your hands, if a tissue is not available.

– Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

– Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

“The health and safety of our campers and staff is our top priority, and we hope to be able to resume the first session of camp after this period of rest,” said Michael Moskowitz, board president.

Dr. Monroe recommends individuals with mild symptoms of influenza should stay home and call their health care provider for advice. If symptoms become severe, such as high fever, trouble breathing, or inability to keep down fluids, they should seek medical care.

For more information on the novel H1N1 influenza A virus, go to www.in.gov/flu.

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Here is the press release from the Switzerland County Health Department on Friday, June 26th, concerning the H1N1 confirmation in Switzerland County:

At this time five cases of novel H1N1 influenza A virus have been confirmed at Camp Livingston in Bennington. The Switzerland County Health Department in collaboration with the Indiana State Board of Health is working to protect the public health of the entire county by investigating every potential exposure in the community.

The Switzerland County Health Department is working closely with their partners to monitor the health of the children at Camp Livingston and the surrounding community. The health department has turned to the CDC and Indiana State Department of Health for the latest guidance on methods to limit the spread of the virus.

The symptoms of novel H1N1 influenza A are similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people have also reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

They also want to remind Switzerland County residents that the best way to prevent the spread of disease is to follow basic precautionary measures. To prevent the spread of a cold, influenza, or any infectious disease:

– Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, rather than your hands, if a tissue is not available.

– Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

– Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

– If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Individuals with mild symptoms of influenza should stay home and call their health care provider for advice. If symptoms become severe, such as high fever, trouble breathing, or inability to keep down fluids, they should seek medical care.

For more information on the novel H1N1 influenza A virus, go to www.in.gov/flu.