Flu cases increasing in PTC

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 2:55pm
By: John Munford

The novel H1N1 strain of influenza is already here in Fayette County, Peachtree City emergency officials told the city council Thursday night.

Schools on the city’s southside are starting to have multiple cases of students with low-grade fevers who are being sent home in hopes of preventing the flu’s spread, said Capt. David Williamson of the Peachtree City Fire Department.

Parents are strongly being urged to keep students home if they have any fever; those students should stay home until 24 hours after the fever subsides without any medication, officials said.

“Especially in Peachtree City if your kids are sick, do not send them to school period,” said Peachtree City Fire Chief Ed Eiswerth. “All it’s going to do is spread it.”

The good news about H1N1, Williamson said, is that in most cases it’s “just the flu” with the main symptom being a fever that escalates quickly.

But anyone with flu symptoms should be watched closely because people react to flu in different ways, Williamson said. One 13-year-old girl in nearby Pike County recently contracted the flu from her brother with her first symptom being a loss of appetite; the next morning she had a fever of 104.9 and needed 3.5 liters of fluid administered before her blood pressure could be taken, he said.

The girl spent three days in intensive care at Egleston Children’s Hospital but has since fully recovered.

The H1N1 flu strain is accelerating in Fayette County as emergency officials are seeing a “marked increase” in flu cases, Williamson said. One local urgent care center last week treated 17 people who tested influenza positive last week compared to zero the week before, he added.

The flu is spreading at local schools and at one school has wiped out an entire cheerleading squad, Williamson said.

Fayette County emergency officials are tracking reported flu cases from local health providers, officials said. Persons coming down with the flu or flu-like symptoms are not just in Fayette County but also in nearby communities, said county officials who are monitoring the data.

The age group most susceptible to the H1N1 flu strain starts at 6 months and ranges up to 24 years old, Williamson said. Also of concern are pregnant women because though they account for 1 percent of those infected, they make up 6 percent of the H1N1 fatalities so far, he added.

A flu vaccine is not likely to be available until October or perhaps November, Williamson said. And because the quantities will not be enough for the entire population, the vaccines will be distributed by public health officials with the assistance of other groups, he added.

Peachtree City anticipates making police and fire employees available to assist with a vaccination site — if one is needed — as well as its community emergency response team and fire department volunteers, Williamson said.

Because health organizations are predicting up to 40 to 50 percent absenteeism for businesses at the peak of the flu wave, the city has prepared a plan to make sure all essential services are maintained during such time, Williamson said. At the peak of the flu wave, it’s likely that schools and childcare facilities will be closed, also affecting absenteeism rates, Williamson said.

The city has purchased a quantity of cleaning supplies that rid the flu virus from surfaces. Williamson recommended a product called Saniguard that is safe to use on computer keyboards, cellphones and other electronic devices.

Flu advice

Avoid the flu:

• Wash your hands throughly with soap and water

• Use alcohol based hand sanitizers

• Cough into your sleeve; if coughing into your hand be sure to wash your hands afterward

• Stay approximately three feet away from someone who might have the flu virus, as that’s how far the virus can travel if coughed or sneezed.

• Help others avoid the flu by staying at home if you are sick

Caring for someone at home with the flu or flu-like symptoms:

• give plenty of fluids

• plenty of rest

• admininster the over-the-counter medications that are available for seasonal flu or flu-like symptoms

At what point do I go to the emergency room or urgent care?

• with fast or troubled breathing

• not drinking enough fluids

• severe or persistent vomitting

• when flu-like symptoms improve but return with a fever and a worsened cough

District Health Dept. Public Information Officer Hayla Hall noted that if a child is sick, including with flu-like symptoms, it is advisable not to send the child to school.

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Submitted by PTC Avenger on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 10:37am.

Widespread Pandemic H1N1 School Outbreaks in Southern US
Recombinomics Commentary 22:15
August 20, 2009

A total of 122 Camden County High School students visited the school nurse's office and several of those were sent home because they were displaying flu-like symptoms on Monday, she said.

There are also two elementary schools - Mamie Lou Gross Elementary and St. Marys Elementary - that reported sending home a high number of students home after they were confirmed to have flu-like symptoms. Mamie Lou Gross Elementary off Harrietts Bluff Road has been reporting fevers and St. Marys Elementary students are suffering from stomach symptoms.

"When I spoke with the office at Mamie Lou Gross Elementary, they had 12 students waiting to see the school nurse at that moment," Smiley said. "There have been a lot of fevers hitting these schools very hard."

Elaine Smiley, health systems coordinator for the school district, said about 10 percent of the estimated 1,000 Camden Middle School enrollment was absent Tuesday from the outbreak.

School nurses have also seen an increase in children who have flu-like symptoms, including fevers of more than 100 degrees, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing, she said. Other symptoms include runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The above comments describe large outbreaks of swine flu at the elementary, middle, and high school level of a school district in southern Georgia (see map). Although some officials have noted that many of the students were influenza A positive, but had not been swine flu confirmed, 99% of influenza A cases in the United States at this time of year are swine flu, and the symptoms described signal a large and widespread outbreak.

Outbreaks such as the one described above are usually associated with seasonal flu in the dead of winter, but these outbreaks began in the summer, right after the start of the new school year. Similar outbreaks are being described throughout the southern United States, where many schools have started a new school year (see map). Large outbreaks are expected nationwide, as students return to the school in the next few weeks.

Most schools are following CDC recommendations and remaining open, while offering guidance centered on keeping ill students at home. However, these guidelines are tightly linked to a fever, which is in the CDC H1N1 swine flu case definition. The association of fever with swine flu infections is tenuous, and some countries like Chile, are reporting 50% of patients without fever, even in more severe cases. Similarly, initial data from Mexico also noted that 30% of confirmed cases did not have a fever, raising concerns that these figures are low, and most infections have no or low fever.

The above figures are likely to be significant undercounts, because most physicians, as well as patients, associate a fever with flu. Thus, mild cases are unlikely to seek medical treatment, and those that do seek treatment are unlikely to be tested because of no fever. The CDC includes fever it the pandemic H1N1 case definition, so the frequency is high, but even with fever in the case definition, 7% of confirmed cases have no fever.

Thus, the policy of keeping schools open, and using fever as one of the key symptoms, may lead to extensive spread by patients who have low or no fever. Moreover, most of the students have mild illnesses, so they are not tested, which may allow important genetic changes to silently spread. One such change is H274Y, which confers Tamiflu resistance. Many of the confirmed cases have quickly developed resistance, raising concerns the H274Y is widespread, but present as a minor species which is largely undetected in samples collected prior to Tamiflu treatment. Media reports described Tamiflu resistance in patients in Texas along the Mexican border, and such cases may be silently spreading, due in part to limited testing.

Thus, these initial outbreaks in multiple school districts across the south raises concerns that similar large outbreaks will be reported in northern regions, and worldwide, as the new school season begins nationwide.


Submitted by Just Saying on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 7:55am.

are probably hoping for a Swine Flu/Seasonal Flu outbreak so they can furlough the teachers again.

Submitted by Tombo100 on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 8:44pm.

Take a look at Oak Grove Elementary. That school has had a huge level of absenteeism the past week.

Submitted by blazing2006 on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 8:21am.

About 30-40 cases of flu at Oak Grove. Parents need to learn more responsibiliy and keep their kids home. I know a few parents that have no common sense and pay no attention to the signs and yet ship their kid(s) off to spread this or any illness. KEEP YOUR KIDS HOME PLEASE. I love Oak Grove's new policy though, which basically says that if your child comes to school the day after being sent home with a fever, vomitting, diahrea, they will be turned around at the door and sent back home for at least another day. A very good policy to attempt to put pressure back on the parents to pay better attention to the health of not only their family but their fellow neighbors as well. Please remember that your kid(s) should be without a fever and medicating that fever, for at least 24 hours

Submitted by Eliza on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 9:58am.

That is an excellent policy to have in place! It is mind-boggling how many parents will send sick kids to school. If everyone would be diligent about keeping sick children at home, it would probably make an amazing difference in the overall rate of illness in the schools.

I've worked as a volunteer in a school clinic - there are even some parents who will balk at coming to the school to get a child who has become ill - that was a real eye-opener for me.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 7:10pm.

are sick, do not send them to school period.

I wonder why such an advisory is directed only to PTC. Puzzled

Bonker$, can you figure this out?

BTW, what ever happened to just calling it "swine flu".

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 5:37am.

I guess the fire chief is a health expert, I don't know! He may know something we don't know! Or Munford may! I don't think our health department does much of anything---run by the state.

"Swine) (both plural and singular, I think) (Hogs) are simply some who get the type of flu mentioned---they don't cause it. Hogs are smarter than dogs. Did you know that? Smarter ones seem to catch diseases easier? That is why we catch so much of it.

The odd problem though is that some school systems are recommending that parents go ahead and send kids to school if they feel like going!
Others are saying don't send them if their nose is running!

Only thing I can make of that is the schools get state and federal money by attendance in some cases!

Money is KING! Parents work!
It has been stupid to take nurses out of large schools! Act like amoeba brains not swine. (Money, again).

Does that answer your question?
Ask me the time, I'll tell you how to make a watch!

Submitted by InKY on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 4:49pm.

According to the CDC, 10-40% of H1N1 (swine flu) cases do not have fever. The virus will continue to spread in schools through mild cases without fever, even if guidelines are followed to a "T."

Submitted by jeep2 on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 10:03pm.

commenting and tracking this? Seems to me that this should be the role of the county Board of Health and not the local Emergency Services directors. Why have a board of health if they are not addressing the citizens re: the health concerns and issues with regards to "public health".

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 10:41pm.

Because Emergency Operations, all phases from pre disaster to post disaster go through Fire/EMS in the Fayette County and PTC. In fact that is reality throughout most of the State.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by jeep2 on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 7:12am.

Mr. Haddix,
Thank you for your reply. I am well aware of the fire departments role in disasters. This is not the aftermath of a tornado, explosion,earthquake, fire, etc. where the skills of fire and EMS are needed for public safety. The anticipated outbreak of swine flu belongs in the public health realm and therefore it is my opinion that they should be addressing this. Leave the fire department to do what we need them to do... fire and EMS....not public health. Has the health department spoken about this?? I havent seen anything; maybe I missed it.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 8:12am.

I believe the answer is that the Federal Government has authorized quarantining. If it reaches level six whole communities could be isolated.

Contrary to popular thought biological and pandemics are qualified as disasters.

Sure, Health is involved, but the action agencies are police, fire, national guard and other agencies with the equipment to actually perform.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 2:36pm.

You indicated that our fire department did this??? Not health!
Backing off that?

Submitted by Bonkers on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 6:03am.

This doesn't sound right!
Who there does it and how?

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