Tulsa Area Schools Dealing With H1N1 Virus

Monday, August 31st 2009, 5:28 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The flu traditionally peaks during the winter months, but if your child has fever and flu like symptoms, they may have the H1N1 virus.  Parents of students shouldn't be alarmed if doctors do not test their child specifically for the virus.

It is not the flu season right now.  So, Tulsa County health officials say if you or your children exhibit flu like symptoms, it's very likely the H1N1 virus.  But, health professionals won't test for it unless absolutely necessary.

The United States is one of the top five countries with the most cases of H1N1. That's according to the World Health Organization. From around the world to Oklahoma, the virus has worked its way into the school systems.

"If they test positive for Flu A right now, it is highly likely that it is H1N1," said Melanie Christian with the Tulsa Health Department.

The Tulsa County Health Department and all states are no longer specifically testing for the H1N1 virus.

"Continuing to test is not really the most efficient use of resources. We're doing other things," said Melanie Christian with the Tulsa Health Department.

The Tulsa City-County Health Department says all states will now only test specifically for the virus in people that are hospitalized with flu like symptoms and those who are high risk for complications.

"We monitor our school absences.  We monitor why are children missing school, is it because they have flu like symptoms?" said Melanie Christian with the Tulsa Health Department.

The Tulsa Health Department is monitoring and tracking emergency room visits daily. The influenza like chart hasn't shown a trend that has alarmed health officials as they prepare for the regular flu season.

"If a doctor sees a person with flu like symptoms they're going to go ahead and treat them for the flu.  Simply conducting a test to confirm they have the flu doesn't necessarily change the prescribed treatment," said Melanie Christian with the Tulsa Health Department.

A vaccine for swine flu is being tested, but isn't expected to be available until mid-October. Taking the right steps, from getting a vaccine to basic hygiene including washing your hands, can go a long way towards preventing the spread of the virus.