Friday, June 12, 2009
Chief Rob Lawson has sent the following information to The Lakewood Scoop: Consistent with changes being made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will update the H1N1 influenza case count weekly—rather than daily effective today, June 10. “Now that H1N1 influenza is present in all regions of New Jersey, we are focusing our efforts on trying to better understand how the disease is spreading. Based on guidance from the CDC, the Department now recommends that health care providers send the state samples for testing when a patient is hospitalized or in instances where there is a cluster of influenza-like illness,’’ said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh. “For other patients, testing is not needed because it does not change how a doctor would manage the person's care. People at high risk for complications from flu -- whether it's H1N1 or another type --may require treatment with antiviral medications and closer observation," Dr. Walsh explained. States are now reporting case counts to the CDC on Wednesdays so the DHSS H1N1 influenza website will be updated weekly beginning on Wednesday, June 10. “When this novel virus was first detected in the U.S. in April, testing was done to determine if there were any cases in New Jersey. But now that H1N1 influenza is present in 18 counties, the Department’s focus has shifted to monitor its course in order to assess changing patterns and virulence in preparation for the fall influenza season,’’ said Dr. Walsh. The Department expects to see additional cases of H1N1 influenza. Samples arrive for testing daily and results are added to the website as they are determined to meet the CDC case definition for confirmed or probable cases. There are currently 226 confirmed cases in 18 counties in New Jersey. An additional 95 probable cases are pending in the state lab. Nationwide, 13,217 confirmed and probable cases have been reported to the CDC. There have been 27 deaths in U.S. associated with H1N1 influenza, but none in New Jersey.