Swine flu confirmed on the coast

Published 12:04 am Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mississippi’s first three cases of swine flu have been identified in Harrison County, but the patients have recovered from the illness, State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson said.

Thompson said the three — a woman, man and child under the age of 1 — were unrelated and lived in different households. He said none had a history of travel to Mexico. The onset of the illness in all cases occurred in early May.

“We know it is not the killer flu that was being reported out of Mexico,” Thompson said Friday at a Health Department briefing.

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However, he said there’s no way of knowing if the number of cases will increase or wind down through the summer.

“We have no plans to recommend any special behavior except for those already advised,” Thompson said.

Mississippi has had more cases of regular influenza for this time of year, which has been the case across the country, according to health officials.

Dr. Mary Currier, state epidemiologist, said the state’s uptick is due to the increased number of specimens now being tested. She said regular flu has been found in 45 people.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 states, including the District of Columbia, have a combined 4,714 confirmed and probable cases. Most probable cases end up being confirmed.

A swine flu death occurred in Texas this month. Texas health officials said a 33-year-old Corpus Christi man had pre-existing medical conditions, including heart problems, that made it more difficult for him to survive any viral illness.

There have been five deaths nationwide.

Mississippi health officials are investigating the contacts made by the Harrison County cases. Thompson said both of the child’s parents had a history of illness that was compatible to influenza, but neither tested positive. He also said the child had not been in a daycare setting.

Swine flu is no more severe than regular flu, he said. But Thompson warned that any influenza can be deadly.

“Very soon, we’re going to stop reporting individual cases altogether,” Thompson said. “We’ll treat it like seasonal flu with aggregate and periodical reports.”