As of Friday, May 15, 2009, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is reporting an additional probable case of the new flu virus (H1N1). The current total for Santa Clara County is 14 confirmed cases and 17 probable cases for a total of 31 cases in the county.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department anticipates that there will be more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths in the United States due to the new virus in the coming weeks and months. This is mainly because people have little to no immunity against it.
Influenza is always a serious disease. Each year in the United States, seasonal influenza causes about 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations. At this time, health officials do not know how severe this new flu virus (H1N1) outbreak will be in terms of illness and death compared with other influenza viruses. It’s too soon to predict what will happen or how the virus might change, but this outbreak has the potential to be at least as serious, and possibly more serious seasonal flu.
Santa Clara County Public Health Department is now reporting a total of 31 confirmed and probable cases. The Public Health Department will report individual cases for as long as possible, and then will use a seasonal surveillance system to track the progress of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak. Routine seasonal surveillance does not count individual cases, but instead monitors activity levels through a local surveillance system based in most of the Emergency Departments of hospitals in our community.
The goals of the Public Health Department during any public health emergency are to reduce illness and death. In the case of this new flu virus (H1N1), reducing illness and deaths is in part achieved by limiting its spread. One example of how this is done is the closing of schools, which was done specifically to reduce the spread of this new flu virus.
Everyday, we learn more about this virus. The actions and guidance the Public Health Department provides may change in response to what we learn. That is our role, but you too have a role in protecting yourself and your family, so it is important to stay informed. Health officials will provide additional information as it becomes available, but right now you can go to www.sccphd.org or visit www.cdc.gov for more information.
Information about the new flu virus, H1N1, is also available on the California Department of Public Health toll-free hotline at 1-888-865-0564 (Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.).