July 2009: H1N1 influenza claims Portage County
This story is a reprint from our July 2009 edition
By Scott Steuck
The H1N1 influenza, commonly referred to as the Swine Flu, has claimed its first Portage County victim, Portage County Health Officer Faye Telzloff said on July 20.
Tetzloff said out of respect for the family and due to patient confidentiality laws, the only details that will be released about the death is that the victim, an adult with underlying medical conditions, was hospitalized at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield when he or she died.
(Tetzloff) did tell the Gazette July 22 that Potage County has 32 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in April, but it’s likely there are many more, as the Health Department no longer needs to confirm them due to the establishment of a flu pattern.
“People are being treated without being tested,” Tetzloff said. “Clinicians no longer have to test people to determine whether or not they have it.”
She said this flu is similar to other flu strains in that testing is done when it first occurs here in order to obtain characteristics about the strain and to determine what people it’s most likely to infect.
“The number of confirmed cases is deceiving as we are no longer testing, except for certain high-risk people,” she said. “Many more than the 32 confirmed cases in our community have it.” However, she noted, the number of people infected with the flu seems to be at a level normal for this time of year.