Eagle County swine flu case probed

First Western Slope case not linked to travel abroad, officials say

Authorities are investigating how an Eagle County teenager became infected with the H1N1 (swine) flu, the first confirmed case of the virus in western Colorado.

The case involves a male in his late teens who is not a student, Eagle County said in a news release Monday. He was not hospitalized and is recovering.

Eagle County spokesperson Kris Friel said it was unclear how the teen contracted the flu. He hadn’t traveled abroad, and there were no other confirmed cases of local flu patients who may have passed it on to him.

Colorado health officials are reporting six confirmed flu cases statewide, five of those in the Denver area.  The cases involve five males and a female, ranging from a middle-schooler to a man in his 40s. Only one case required hospitalization, and all six are recovering.

The flu’s earlier emergence in Mexico took a particularly heavy and sometimes deadly toll on young adults, possibly as a result of what some authorities think may have been an overly aggressive response by stronger immune systems.

Mark Salley, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that with only six Colorado cases so far, it’s “too early to speculate on trends based on age.” But he said the state is thankful Colorado’s flu cases so far have been fairly mild ones.

In what the state health department called an expected development, it said the disease is now circulating within the United States and Colorado and people no longer need to have traveled to Mexico or other states to contract the disease. As a result, the state said it no longer will report the travel history of confirmed cases.

In a news release, Eagle County Epidemiologist Becky Larson said the local flu case is not cause for public alarm.

“It’s important to remember that, so far, H1N1 is affecting people at the same rate and in the same manner as seasonal flu,” said Larson. “If you follow basic steps to prevent the spread of the illness, including washing hands frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes and keeping a reasonable distance from those who are ill, there is no reason not to go about your daily business.”

State health officials say people with flu-like illness should stay home from work and school until a week after the onset of symptoms or 24 hours after they are gone, whichever is longer.

Those with severe symptoms should contact health-care providers.

Symptoms include a fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache, chills, body aches and fatigue.

Officials also say the disease is spread from person to person, and not by pigs or by eating pork.

Larson said the flu outbreak serves as a reminder of the need for people to stock up on enough food, water and other supplies to ensure they are prepared for any emergency that could require staying home for several days.

She recommends the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org and Ready Colorado at http://www.readycolorado.org as resources for preparing emergency supply kits.


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