By Johnny Jackson
The Henry County School System reported its first medically confirmed case of the Novel Type A H1N1 Influenza virus on Tuesday. There had been cases of the virus at a private school in the county, but this is the first case in the public school system.
"We have a confirmed case at Luella Elementary School," said April Brown, Henry's director of administrative services. School officials did not reveal when the case was confirmed. Brown said, however, that the case existed in a student at the school.
"H1N1 is being treated, per CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, as the seasonal flu," Brown added. "Our cleaning protocol includes a disinfectant recommended to kill viruses that cause illness such as H1N1 and MRSA. Our facilities are cleaned daily."
People can help stave off the spread of viruses, like H1N1, just by practicing good personal hygiene, said District 4 Public Health Spokeswoman Hayla Hall.
"We are asking people not to panic with H1N1," said Hall. "It's just like seasonal flu, but we are asking that sick people remain at home."
She said people should adhere to public health and CDC guidelines, keeping their children out of school and away from public places, if they are ill.
Recommendations for helping prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus are available at the District 4 Public Health web site, or by searching H1N1 on the Henry County School System's web site.
H1N1 spread-prevention campaign
State health officials are asking residents to be proactive in preventing the spread of H1N1 and other seasonal viruses. On Thursday, Georgia Department of Community Health Commissioner Rhonda Medows announced the launch of the statewide "Roll Up Your Sleeve" campaign.
The campaign is a grassroots educational campaign geared toward educating Georgians about seasonal flu and H1N1, according to Medows. The campaign also encourages residents, who fall within high-risk groups, to get vaccinated, as the vaccines become available this fall.
"Reports of novel H1N1 continue to create some questions and concerns in our communities," added Medows. "While the current data indicates that the severity of the illness caused by the novel H1N1 virus is not increasing, it is important that Georgians arm themselves with knowledge and take action to avoid getting or spreading the seasonal flu and novel H1N1 flu viruses."
She said the state community health department created the "Roll Up Your Sleeve" campaign to highlight the importance of Georgians within high-risk categories getting seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations.
The goal of the campaign, she continued, is to bring about discussions on how everyone can prevent the spread of the flu viruses and understand the steps to take if they have symptoms.
Medows said campaign materials will be available statewide in all 18 health districts.
"The health districts play a vital role in our communication efforts with Georgia's citizens," she added. "We are confident that a collaborative and unified education campaign that is state-led and district-centric will benefit every community."
Health officials expect vaccines for both the seasonal flu and H1N1 will be available this fall at local health departments.
On the net:
Henry County Schools: www.henry.k12.ga.us
District 4 Health Department: www.district4health.org