ALLEN COUNTY — Word that a local school-aged child had the H1N1 flu confirms what health experts have suspected: The virus is already out there.
The Allen County Health Department announced Thursday that a local middle-school pupil was confirmed to have the H1N1 virus. The child has already recovered and returned to classes, according to Health Department Director Dave Rosebrock.
Rosebrock would not say what school the child attends.
“We’ve had strong suspicions that it’s here,” Rosebrock said. “The good news continues to be that, for most children, it tends to be a relatively mild disease. They’re sick for a few days and tend to bounce back quickly.”
The unidentified child is the first case of H1N1 officially confirmed in the county since earlier this year when three college-age victims were identified. In all cases, the infected person recovered in just a few days, Rosebrock said.
Area doctors are reporting a seasonal increase in the number of upper respiratory illnesses and other illnesses common for the time of year, particularly among school-age children. The H1N1 virus appears to resemble a common bug. And since the state’s laboratories are limiting who will be tested, identifying the true number of cases would be all but impossible, Rosebrock said.
“It’s so hard to pinpoint. Testing is very limited in terms of what we can submit to the state health department lab. It has to be an at-risk patient or a cluster of cases. Generally, we just haven’t seen that,” Rosebrock said.
The department expects to receive some H1N1 vaccine in the next few days, but most if it will be used to vaccinate health care professionals, Rosebrock said. In the absence of vaccines, he suggests treating H1N1 like other illnesses. Stay home, take care of yourself, and if it gets worse, see a doctor.
“Our message is stay home when you’re sick. Most people don’t need to get medical care, but if a child or adult has asthma or other problems that put them at greater risk, get help,” Rosebrock said.
Most with H1N1 flu have been mildly sick and have not needed medical care.
However, the following should contact their doctor if they develop flu-like symptoms:
• Anyone with a chronic condition — diabetes, heart disease, asthma
• Pregnant women