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Tulsa Health Department Does Not Test For H1N1

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Tulsa Health Department reminded the public that the health department is not testing for individual cases of the new H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus. Individuals who are sick should not come to the health department to be tested or bring sick children in to be tested for the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

"We now know that the new influenza virus has spread throughout the state, so testing individuals to determine if the disease is present in the county is no longer necessary." stated Tulsa Health Department Director Gary Cox.

Whether one has seasonal flu or the new H1N1 flu, the symptoms and treatment for flu are the same, so testing to determine which kind of influenza an individual may have is not necessary, unless the individual has been hospitalized. Physicians offices can provide rapid flu tests to determine if a person has type A or type B flu. Since the new H1N1 flu is essentially the only virus circulating right now, it's likely that any person who tests positive for influenza A on the rapid flu test has the H1N1 flu virus.

All flu viruses are spread from person to person in respiratory droplets when a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes and spreads those infected droplets to others. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some persons also report diarrhea and vomiting.

Persons who are experiencing mild flu symptoms do not necessarily need to see a doctor, however, if you are pregnant or have a health condition like diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema, you should check with your healthcare provider about appropriate treatment.

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Persons should seek immediate medical care if they have trouble breathing; have purple or blue discoloration of the lips; are vomiting and unable to keep liquids down; have signs of dehydration such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry; have seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions); or are otherwise less responsive than normal or become confused.

For those persons who are at high risk for severe complications from the flu, some antiviral prescription medication may help lessen influenza symptoms. Most people will not need them to fully recover from the flu. Health officials caution that aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Instead, use medications such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and muscle aches associated with the flu. The use of aspirin in children has been associated with Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal disease in children, causing harmful effects to many organs, including the brain and liver.

Steps individuals can take to slow the spread of the flu include:

* Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds

* Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of the elbow

* Avoid close contact with others who are sick

* Individuals who are sick should not return to work or school until fever free for at least 24 hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medications