Nevada Officials Report First Case of Swine Flu

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The first case of swine flu was confirmed Wednesday in Nevada after federal laboratory results traced the deadly virus to a 2-year-old Reno girl who last week had been diagnosed with a common seasonal variety of the flu, state officials said.

State health officials learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta that the girl had the disease, said Martha Framsted, spokeswoman for the Nevada state Health Division.

The 2-year-old girl was not hospitalized and was recovering, said Judy Davis, spokeswoman for the Washoe County District Health Department, which is responsible for the Reno area.

Officials said another family member also was ill, and said they were trying to determine how the child contracted the illness. They said there was no immediate link to Mexico, where the virus was first detected, or any other places it has been reported.

"This child did not have a travel history to Mexico or other communities," Dr. Randall Todd, Washoe County epidemiologist, said at a news conference in Reno. "The girl attends a day care. Literally, as we speak, my staff is discussing this with the day care center." Officials did not identify the child or the day care center.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Nevadans "need to have confidence that our health officials are on top of this and that the person exposed to this is responding to medicine."

"We're well-prepared and doing the right thing, according to protocol," Gibbons said before the news conference. "Every asset and every employee of the state is available to assist if needed."

Nevada joined Arizona, Indiana and Ohio with newly confirmed swine flu cases, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

In Mexico, where the virus was first detected, nearly 2,500 cases were suspected and 19 were confirmed. Authorities confirmed seven swine flu deaths in Mexico, and suspect the virus in more than 150 other cases.

In the U.S., one death is attributed to the virus: a 23-month-old boy from Mexico who died in Texas.

At least 93 cases in the U.S, have been confirmed by CDC and state officials, including 51 in New York, 14 in California, 16 in Texas, three in Maine, two in Kansas, two in Massachusetts, and one each in Indiana, Ohio, Arizona and Nevada. In Michigan, the CDC reported two cases but state officials maintained only one was confirmed.

Cases of the virus have also been reported in Canada, New Zealand, Britain, Germany, Spain, Israel and Austria.

"It looks a lot like seasonal influenza. That is one of the problems," said Todd, who noted the Reno girl had been diagnosed last week with influenza A - "a common strain we see almost every flu season."

The state medical lab was unable to determine the strain's subtype, indicating it could be swine flu, Todd said. So the specimen was forwarded to the CDC.

Dr. Mary Anderson, Washoe County health officer, said that according to the CDC, 85 percent of the cases nationwide do not have a connection to Mexico or a travel history.

"So that means this virus has been circulating. It is very likely cases have occurred in the U.S., and have not resulted in a fatality or severe illness and went unnoticed," she said.

Anderson said it was important to keep a proper perspective.

"This is one case in a very large population," she said. "We need to be restrained and practical in the way we approach this."

But Todd cautioned there would likely be more swine flu cases in Nevada.

Gibbons said the state is prepared to "distribute thousands of doses of influenza medication should it be necessary."

Mike Willden, director of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said the state has 140,000 treatment courses of Tamiflu stockpiled in warehouses, and expects an additional 86,000 treatment courses from the CDC any day.

Anderson said the medication only treats the flu, so no one should take it as a preventative.

Officials are not recommending people wear masks.

"The best thing you can do is to practice good personal hygiene. Cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands. Do all those things your mom told you to do and you thought weren't really important," Anderson said. "If you have a cold, stay home."
Associated Press staff writers Ken Ritter and Oskar Garcia in
Las Vegas, Correspondent Brendan Riley in Carson City and
Correspondent Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report