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Who has swine flu? Maybe you do!

by Courteney Stuart

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news-acacACAC Day Camp alerted parents in June that a camper had a likely case of swine flu.

In the months since it dominated headlines in April and May, swine flu has been quietly traveling the globe– and one of its recent destinations is right here in Charlottesville. In fact, according to doctors, it’s quite likely someone you know has had it– even if they didn’t realize it.

In addition to seven confirmed cases of swine flu in the Thomas Jefferson Health District, the five-county jurisdiction that includes Charlottesville and Albemarle.

“We’ve seen 15 cases,” says Dr. Carlos Armengol, a pediatrician who works downtown at Pediatric Associates on 10th Street.

Armengol says the Centers for Disease Control is no longer confirming the virus unless an individual is sick enough to require hospitalization. In milder cases, an in-office flu test is conducted. Positive results for type A influenza are enough to assume swine flu, says Armengol.

That was the case at both UVA, where at least seven campers have reportedly been diagnosed, and at ACAC’s summer camp on Four Seasons Drive, where in mid-June, a sign warned parents that a camper there had been diagnosed.

In a prepared statement, ACAC spokesperson Teppi LoSciuto says the camper didn’t show symptoms while attending the camp, and that the alert the camp posted for parents was in accordance with advice from the Health Department. Directors of two other local camps, Triple C Camp and Field Camp, weren’t aware of any cases among their campers. But even if that changes, Armengol says, parents shouldn’t be overly alarmed.

“All the kids we’ve seen have had very mild symptoms,” he says, “no sicker than with seasonal flu.”

That’s what some parents of ACAC campers say they’re hoping for.

“In the absence of any information suggesting that the virus has evolved into a form more dangerous than has been reported over the last few months,” Robert Nichols, father of an ACAC camper, said soon after the sign was posted. “I’m not overly concerned at this point.”

Thomas Jefferson Health District epidemiologist Elizabeth Davies says that’s the reaction she hopes others will share.

“I hate how this whole situation has people in such a panic,” she says of swine flu in general. Davies says “basic daily measures” including frequent hand washing and avoiding others who are ill can offer protection.

“It is a new situation,” she says, “but the prevention is so easy.”

  • Sue July 17th, 2009 | 6:00 pm

    One of my friends told me today that she and her husband had canceled a trip to Japan, fearing the flu that could be spread on the plane. She was shocked to hear there is flu right here in Charlottesville. I’ll bet many people are unaware of this.

  • Sick Of The Local Rambos July 17th, 2009 | 7:58 pm

    The swine flu was a man made virus accidentally created in a lab in the United states. Once the virus was found not to be exactly what they were attempting to achieve, all samples were put in a very sealed and secure briefcase. It was to be flown to Nevada for destruction in a controlled and sterile facility underground using extremely high temperatures. The Central Disease Control Center agent assigned to deliver the briefcase to Nevada set it down in the airport coffee shoppe. A few minutes later the agent discovered somebody had stolen the briefcase right out from under his nose. Instead of reporting the theft immediately, the agent walked the airport for two hours attempting to spot the briefcase. We now know that due to the nature of the contents of the briefcase, this theft was classified as a national security threat. We also now know that protocol in such a declaration states the airport should have been locked down immediately and quarantined. No person or plane should have been allowed to enter or leave a 35 mile radius of the airport. President Obama and his staff were to immediately be notified as well.

    Government investigators speculate that some person on their way to Mexico had stolen the briefcase, because the briefcase was found in Valle de Santiago, Mexico the next day. It had been broken into and all the contents were missing. The seals on some recovered vials had been broken and they were bone dry.

    Maxwell Smart has been sent to investigate. :)

  • Sue July 17th, 2009 | 9:23 pm

    Thrilling, I think a new career awaits you

  • M July 17th, 2009 | 9:56 pm

    Let me guess, Sick — you read about this on your bad cops news blog?

  • Comment on Farmer’s helper: Local Food Hub opens by Sville Eye July 18th, 2009 | 12:06 am

    I have to agree with Cville Eye. It seemed to me they were trying to create jobs for themselves using tax money.
    P.S.: Wanted to add great post!

  • Sick Of The Local Rambos July 18th, 2009 | 4:07 pm

    quote: “Let me guess, Sick — you read about this on your bad cops news blog?”

    Mr/Mrs/Miss M……………… no.

    Maxwell Smart was a bumbling secret agent on TV from 1965 to 1970.

  • Rooked and Knighted July 18th, 2009 | 5:57 pm

    I had it. It sucked and I was very careful not to infect anyone else. Took about 5 days and I’m still a little weak from it. It did nothing to diminish my love for bacon, however.

  • Caesonia July 20th, 2009 | 3:38 pm

    Sounds pretty much like when i had the ‘normal’ flux, or whatever strain it was. Only I was pretty much flattened for about 7 days. The only other time it was about 3 weeks, but I was not flattened.

    For people who truly contract the flux,it is always horrible. Looks to me like the swine flu has been combining with the less virulent form based and our immune systems are able to deal with it.

  • Sick Of The Local Rambos July 24th, 2009 | 6:25 pm

    July 24, 2009

    ATLANTA — In a disturbing new projection, health officials say up to 40 percent of Americans could get swine flu this year and next and several hundred thousand could die without a successful vaccine campaign and other measures.

    The estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are roughly twice the number of those who catch flu in a normal season and add greater weight to hurried efforts to get a new vaccine ready for the fall flu season.

    Swine flu has already hit the United States harder than any other nation, but it has struck something of a glancing blow that’s more surprising than devastating. The virus has killed about 300 Americans and experts believe it has sickened more than 1 million, comparable to a seasonal flu with the weird ability to keep spreading in the summer.

    Health officials say flu cases may explode in the fall, when schools open and become germ factories, and the new estimates dramatize the need to have vaccines and other measures in place.

    A world health official said the first vaccines are expected in September and October. The United States expects to begin testing on some volunteers in August, with 160 million doses ready in October.

    The CDC came up with the new projections for the virus’ spread last month, but it was first disclosed in an interview this week with The Associated Press.

    The estimates are based on a flu pandemic from 1957, which killed nearly 70,000 in the United States but was not as severe as the infamous Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. The number of deaths and illnesses from the new swine flu virus would drop if the pandemic peters out or if efforts to slow its spread are successful, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

    “Hopefully, mitigation efforts will have a big impact on future cases,” he said. Besides pushing flu shots, health officials might urge measures such as avoiding crowded places, handwashing, cough covering and timely use of medicines like Tamiflu.

    Because so many more people are expected to catch the new flu, the number of deaths over two years could range from 90,000 to several hundred thousand, the CDC calculated. Again, that is if a new vaccine and other efforts fail.

    In a normal flu season, about 36,000 people die from flu and its complications, according to the American Medical Association. That too is an estimate, because death certificates don’t typically list flu as a cause of death. Instead, they attribute a fatality to pneumonia or other complications.

    Influenza is notoriously hard to predict, and some experts have shied away from a forecast. At a CDC swine flu briefing Friday, one official declined to answer repeated questions about her agency’s own estimate.

    “I don’t think that influenza and its behavior in the population lends itself very well to these kinds of models,” said the official, Dr. Anne Schuchat, who oversees the CDC’s flu vaccination programs.

    The World Health Organization says as many as 2 billion people could become infected in the next two years — nearly a third of the world population. The estimates look at potential impacts in a two-year period because past flu pandemics have occurred in waves over more than one year.

    Swine flu has been an escalating concern in Britain and some other European nations, where the virus’ late arrival has grabbed attention and some officials at times have sounded alarmed.

    In an interview Friday, the WHO’s flu chief told the AP the global epidemic is still in its early stages.

    “Even if we have hundreds of thousands of cases or a few millions of cases … we’re relatively early in the pandemic,” Keiji Fukuda said at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

    The first vaccines are expected in September and October, Fukuda said. Other vaccines won’t be ready until well into the flu season when a further dramatic rise in swine flu cases is expected.

    First identified in April, swine flu has likely infected more than 1 million Americans, the CDC believes, with many of those suffering mild cases never reported. There have been 302 deaths and nearly 44,000 laboratory-identified cases, according to numbers released Friday morning.

    Because the swine flu virus is new, most people haven’t developed an immunity to it. So far, most of those who have died from it in the United States have had other health problems, such as asthma.

    The virus has caused an unusual number of serious illnesses in teens and young adults; seasonal flu usually is toughest on the elderly and very young children.

  • I'm Just Saying July 24th, 2009 | 10:50 pm

    Let’s just cancel school this year if it’s going to be such a virulent flu season. Wouldn’t this save more lives than a vaccine?

    “Health officials say flu cases may explode in the fall, when schools open and become germ factories, and the new estimates dramatize the need to have vaccines and other measures in place.”

    Kids don’t learn that much each year in school–especially in Central VA public schools. Just skip a year.

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