Officials address H1N1 'Swine' Flu in Snohomish County

Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer for local public health in Snohomish County, and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced Thursday their joint plan for managing the countywide response to H1N1 influenza.

Reardon pledged immediate technical communications support to the Health District to cope with a surge of calls and e-mail inquiries about the new strain of flu from all sectors of the community. Staff from the county’s Department of Emergency Management will triple the Health District’s current capacity to respond to calls by activating a call center Friday, May 1: 425-388-5060 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily).

“If we’re accused of doing too much, then fine,” said Reardon. “But we will never be accused of doing too little. Public health and safety is our Number One priority for our community.”

Snohomish County residents are two of the state’s probable cases of H1N1. “Probable” means that the laboratory results at state level are not yet confirmed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently the CDC is the only public health lab in the country that can positively identify this virus.

One probable local case is a 34-year-old woman who resides in Lynnwood, Wash. Related to this case, Mukilteo School District announced Thursday it would close Odyssey Elementary for one day, Friday, May 1, because a student is the child of the Lynnwood woman. The child was ill but not tested, and has not attended classes at the school since Friday, April 24. There is no evidence that the virus has spread to other students. ( The Health District works closely with schools to decide if circumstances require measures beyond routine exclusion of sick students.

The second probable case in Snohomish County is a child who resides in Snohomish. New information from the state Public Health Laboratory corrects the age of this boy. His age initially was reported as 6 years. The age of the child in question actually is 3 years. His 6-year-old brother was sick, is better, tested negative, and now is being retested. Both children have been at home. They do not attend schools or child-care facilities.

The Everett Clinic announced today that one of their part-time staff, a physician, also is a probable case. This individual, a 33-year-old woman, is a King County resident and is being followed by Public Health Seattle & King County. This case is separate from Snohomish County’s 34-year-old female probable case.

“I am in close contact with schools, health care providers, and hospitals,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “Our medical advice to all our community partners is based on guidance from the CDC – and we are acting on the flu plan developed with our community partners in 2003.

“As unexciting as it may sound,” said Dr. Goldbaum, “the most effective preventive measures remain these: Stay home if you are sick, and keep your children home from school or child care if they are ill. Wash your hands, cover your cough, and call your health care provider if you feel sick with flu symptoms -- don’t simply show up in a waiting room.”

H1N1 news from around the region.

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