Altru patient treated for swine flu
A patient who was treated recently at Altru Hospital for flu-like symptoms tested positive for the H1N1 or "swine" flu virus, a hospital official confirmed Tuesday.
The patient was treated on an outpatient basis and sent home to recover, Dr. James Hargreaves, Altru's infectious disease physician, said in a prepared statement, indicating the case was not severe.
"At this time, Altru Health System has not admitted to the hospital any patients with confirmed cases of H1N1," Hargreaves said.
Rumors had circulated since last week that Altru had handled a case involving a patient who tested positive for swine flu, which the World Health Organization on June 11 declared a pandemic.
Hospital officials said Tuesday that they were aware of the rumors and questions the public might have, but because of patient confidentiality rules, they could not provide information on the patient's age, sex or residence or whether the person had traveled to high-infection areas of the southwestern United States or Mexico.
State health officials have received no reports of "any probable or confirmed cases who are residents of Grand Forks County," Kirby Kruger, state epidemiologist with the North Dakota Health Department, said Tuesday.
According to a summary updated daily by the state health department, North Dakota's 30 confirmed cases -- from a total of 377 samples tested to date -- include just two from northeastern North Dakota: one from Walsh County and one from Steele County.
Most of the state's confirmed cases have been reported in Ward County (11) and Cass County (8). Of 10 cases still listed as "probable," eight were reported in Cass County.
Half of the 30 confirmed cases involved males, half females, and 80 percent (24 cases) were found in people between the ages of 10 and 29, according to the latest statistics. There have been no cases involving people older than 50.
One person has been hospitalized so far in North Dakota, according to the state health summary. There have been no deaths.
Minnesota recorded its first swine flu death last week: a 5-year-old Minneapolis girl who reportedly was born with a poor immune system and thus was especially vulnerable to the disease.
Minnesota has confirmed 274 cases of swine flu in the state, but that number is compiled from reports from selected monitoring sites, and there likely have been many more cases.
"We would expect that there's a significant number of cases for every case that we've been tracking," John Linc Stine, assistant health commissioner, told the Star Tribune newspaper. "It's clear to us the virus is spreading through the state, through the population."
According to the World Health Organization, 35,928 cases of H1N1 flu have been reported in 76 countries, with about half of those cases occurring in the United States.
There have been 163 deaths worldwide, including 108 in Mexico and 45 in the United States.
In his statement, Hargreaves said Altru "continues to take all the appropriate measures to contain the virus and provide appropriate care to the community and our patients."
He repeated advice that health officials offered at the start of the outbreak: Stay home if you feel ill, wash hands frequently, cover when coughing or sneezing and limit contact with people who are sick.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an extensive question-and-answer guide to H1N1 flu at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm.