Swine Flu Update

On April 28, DHEC officials held their first swine flu outbreak conference call with your hospitals and SCHA staff. During this call, Dr. Jerry Gibson confirmed two probable cases of the new (novel) swine flu in the Newberry cluster based on PCR testing at the DHEC state lab. These specimens have been sent to CDC for final confirmation, and there are other suspected cases from this cluster pending further testing.

DHEC is now in enhanced surveillance mode for detection and testing of individual suspected cases with travel exposure and clusters of cases with influenza like upper respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. As of 11am today, there were 64 confirmed cases in the US with no deaths and the symptom picture and clinical course in the US has mirrored the typical flu virus pattern, except for a slightly quicker time from exposure to initial symptoms and an increased incidence in teens and young adults.

Therefore, it is recommended that EDs, outpatient clinics and physician practices be on the alert for individual patients presenting with an influenza like illness with a personal history of recent travel to Mexico or other countries or states in the US with confirmed cases of this new virus or direct exposure to symptomatic individuals with this travel history, or clusters of cases with the influenza like symptoms. In these suspected patients, a rapid flu test should be performed to confirm presence of a Type A influenza virus and a nasopharyngeal swab in viral transport media should be obtained and sent to the DHEC State Lab.

Please note that this lab specimen must be placed in a refrigerator until transport and must be kept cold during transport. Each of your hospital labs have been sent detailed instructions from the State Lab on how to obtain, store and transport these specimens. The State Lab is also requesting that travel and exposure history be included with these specimens. Please contact Dr. Jenny Meredith at 803-896-0870 with any questions about the process to obtain and submit these NP swab specimens or for assistance with obtaining the proper transport media tubes. Hospitals and physician practices also need to submit a completed novel swine flu case report form to DHEC for each suspected case. This form can be located on the DHEC website at www.scdhec.gov/flu/swine-flu.htm under the "Advice for Health Care Professionals" section. At the present time, this form needs to be sent in hard copy format to DHEC, but hopefully within the next week the form can be completed and submitted electronically.

04-29-2009 12:00 (EDT)