News Conference and press release from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s office
A lab specimen from a Minnesota influenza patient has been submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be tested for the H1N1 novel influenza virus, also referred to as swine flu.
The individual is expected to make a full recovery and did not require hospitalization.
“We expected to have cases of the H1N1 virus in Minnesota and we have plans and preparations in place to respond appropriately and aggressively,” Governor Pawlenty said. “This is certainly cause for concern, but not panic.”
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is characterizing the case as “probable” – meaning that the MDH lab has confirmed the virus as type A influenza, but the strain cannot be identified using lab tests available to MDH.
The individual was linked with Rocori Middle School in Cold Spring. Both Rocori Middle School and St. Boniface Elementary, which share some facilities with Rocori Middle School, are closed today.
Although any risk to students or staff is regarded as low, the two schools were closed out of “an abundance of caution,” officials said. The schools were closed voluntarily by local officials after consultant with state health officials.
Additional testing by CDC will be needed to determine if the individual had the unusual new strain of influenza that has made people sick in Mexico and six other countries, including five different states in the U.S. Results are expected from CDC within 24 hours.
At least 64 laboratory confirmed cases of the illness have now been reported in the U.S., most of them in New York, California and Texas.
“Like other state and local public health agencies across the country, we have been doing aggressive surveillance for this illness,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota State Epidemiologist. “We will continue to work closely with partners to characterize the outbreak.
“In the U.S., infections caused by this virus appear to be behaving much like regular seasonal influenza,” Dr. Lynfield said. “Like seasonal flu, we know it still has the potential to cause severe illness or even death. We will provide new information as we learn more.”
MDH officials are reminding people that they have a role in controlling the spread of infections like influenza. Stay home if you’re sick, cover your cough, wash your hands frequently and limit your contact with people who you think might be sick.
If you have traveled within the past week to Mexico or other areas where H1N1 novel influenza is circulating, and you develop fever along with other flu symptoms, call your health care provider. Tell them about your symptoms and travel history.
For more information on novel influenza please visit the MDH website at www.health.state.mn.us or contact your healthcare provider.