Release Date: 10-28-2009 Click here for a larger view
Since early May, Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Infectious Disease Specialist Rosita Liu, MD, and other members of the staff have met regularly with school district officials, Emergency Management administrators, Honesdale EMS and others to prepare for a potential H1N1 pandemic emergency in our area. Dr. Liu agreed to answer a series of questions about the H1N1 flu in our area at this time to help local officials and agencies respond to the needs of their patients, students, families and other clients.
Q: Is there an epidemic in northeastern Pennsylvania of H1N1 flu (previously called “swine flu”)? It seems like every day there are new cases in the news.
Dr. Liu: Yes. Currently, it is considered a relatively mild epidemic. Many people are reporting flu-like symptoms. 99% of the people whose flu tests are sent for confirmation to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have the novel 2009 strain of H1N1.
Influenza A occurs annually, during the late fall season, and strains change a little bit yearly, producing what we call “seasonal flu.” In April, 2009, we encountered a completely new strain of H1N1, the so-called “swine flu.”
The screening test for influenza is not very sensitive and needs additional confirmatory testing by the Department of Health or the CDC to diagnose H1N1. Due to the high volume of confirmatory flu testings requested, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is limiting testings to severe cases.