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Friday, October 31st, 2014

Is H1N1 Back in Season?

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Local health officials are investigating the cases of eight people at Conroe Regional Medical Center in Montgomery County, Texas. They were admitted with flu-like symptoms but four of the eight patients had died due to the mysterious illness.

The dead patients were men ages of 41 to 68.

Of the remaining patients alive, at least one has tested positive for H1N1 strain or as it was commonly referred to as “swine flu” during the flu pandemic of 2009.  But two patients tested negative for H1N1 and the other is still awaiting test results.

There have been hundreds of new H1N1 cases recently in Texas; at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, emergency room physicians have been seeing cases on the rise. However this year, doctors do not expect the strain to spread as it did in 2009.  “That particular year, that strain just really spread,” said Robert Vezzetti, M.D., an emergency medicine pediatrician. “This year, we’re not seeing that.  This year, we’re still seeing flu, and the numbers are about what they usually are. We’re just not seeing that virulence that flu strain had before,” he said to ABC local affiliates, KVUE News.

This is in part because this year’s flu vaccine protects against H1N1, the four patients that died at Conroe Regional Medical Center did not receive a flu shot according to Montgomery County officials.

As for the remaining patients at Conroe who are still very sick, the Montgomery County Medical Director, Dr. Mark Escott stated that patients who tested negative when admitted, will have samples sent to the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation testing.

Just because adults test negative for the flu, doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

According to Dr. Pedro Piedra, an internationally known flu researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, “You can have influenza infection and not be able to detect it.”

However, there is a lack of answers as there is no official diagnosis to the four men that died, nor did they test positive for the flu strains.

Right now, there is not enough information to warrant a public health alert related to the mysterious illness, according to Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler. As of today, Montgomery Public Health District released a statement on its website of one more confirmed case of H1N1, but did not release any other details.

Montgomery County health department is urging everyone to try to prevent any illness from spreading by washing hands frequently and staying home if sick; and getting to the doctor within the first 48 hours of illness.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or facebook- TheReporterandTheGirl. www.SCRhyne.com

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