The Tennessee Department of Health lab has identified the first probable case of the novel H1N1 virus, also known as "swine flu," in the state — a Davidson County student who resides in Williamson County.
The specimen is being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to confirm the preliminary results.
"The Tennessee Department of Health is taking all necessary precautions in responding to this public health emergency," said Gov. Phil Bredesen during a quickly assembled press conference Wednesday night. "As diagnosis of the illness continues, we must following the guidance of the state and federal health officials by staying home when we are sick and practicing good hygiene by washing our hands frequently. These small steps will help slow the spread of this illness."
The patient, a student at Nashville's Harding Academy who is receiving treatment for symptoms at home, is recovering from the illness and has a good prognosis, the governor said.
The state Department of Health is working with local officials to identify and provide antiviral medication to the patient's family and close contacts. Anyone identified as a close contact of the patient will be notified by the Department.
"It's important to note that more human cases of swine flu will be detected in Tennessee because of expanded testing and surveillance," said State Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. "People should be alert to developing news and information about this virus, but should not panic based on this probable case. The more you know, the more you can do to ensure your family's health."
As a precaution Harding Academy announced it will cancel classes and close the school through the end of next week. In a statement, the Head of Harding, Ian Craig, wrote:
"This afternoon Harding Academy received a phone call from the Commissioner of Health from the State of Tennessee informing the school that one of our students has been diagnosed with influenza A virus carrying the designation H1N1, commonly referred to as Swine Flu. They have asked Harding to close school and all school activities for seven calendar days, and the school is complying with this request. This closure will include this weekend's Harding Art Show set for Thursday evening through Saturday."
Craig noted that additional communications and updates will be posted on the Harding Academy Web site http://www.hardingacademy.org  .
Human cases of the H1N1 virus infection have been identified both in the United States and internationally. While this is the first probable case in Tennessee, new cases are being identified daily in other states and counties. The state Department of Health is conducting active surveillance to determine if any individuals in Tennessee have this strain of the influenza virus.
The Department is also collaborating with U.S. Health and Human Services to ensure the state has adequate medical supplies and necessary medications on hand should they be needed.
As of Wednesday night, the CDC had confirmed 91 human cases of this strain of flu infection in the U.S. The most current information, as well as a state-by-state breakdown, can be found on the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/ .
Tennessee residents who think they may be ill with the flu or flu-like illness should contact their health care provider.
Symptoms of the illness are as follows: fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you become ill and experience any warning signs, seek emergency medical care. In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
* Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Severe or persistent vomiting
The Department of Health recommends frequent hand washing with warm soapy water, keeping hands away from your face, eyes and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue. These precautions can also help prevent the spread of other illnesses including the common cold.
For more information about the current flu outbreak, visit the Department of Health Web site at http://health.state.tn.us/swineflu.htm . Additional information is also available at the CDC's Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/ .