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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Massachusetts Announces 28 Additional Confirmed H1N1 Cases

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced 28 additional confirmed cases of H1N1 (swine flu) in Massachusetts. Each of the new cases is expected to fully recover and none of the cases are hospitalized.

The increase in the number of confirmed cases is the result of confirmatory testing now being done at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute. Previously, testing of all suspect and probable flu cases was performed only at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, which resulted in a backlog of samples for testing.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby stressed how residents can protect themselves, their families and communities against the influenza virus. “There are simple things we can all do to stop the spread of illness: wash your hands with soap and warm water, cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve, and stay home if you’re sick,” Dr. Bigby said.

DPH officials continue to take steps to increase surveillance of influenza-like illness in Massachusetts, working in close partnership with health care providers, hospital emergency departments, and other partners at the local, state and federal level. As confirmed and probable cases have been identified in schools, DPH has also been working to help administrators determine the best course of action to protect the health of other students in their facilities.

“We want to be proactive in offering assistance to schools and local communities which have been affected by the H1N1 outbreak,” DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “The guidance from CDC has been changing often and we are working constantly to help our community partners to interpret that guidance.”

State health officials have begun to provide critical health care partners with necessary material from the federal stockpile of medications and supplies that the state recently received. This initial push will help alleviate short-term problems that have been identified in the health care supply chain.

H1N1 (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. Outbreaks of swine flu happen regularly in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Most commonly, human cases of swine flu happen in people who are around pigs but it’s possible for swine flu viruses to spread from person to person as well. Swine flu is not transmitted by food and you cannot get swine flu by eating pork products.

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