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First Cases of H1N1 Flu Found in Greene County

The first cases of the widespread H1N1 influenza, also known as the Swine Flu, have been discovered in Greene County. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

UPDATE (2:30PM, 7/17/09): In a written statement emailed to reporters this afternoon, Springfield-Greene County Health Department spokeswoman Jaci McReynolds states, "The two cases (of H1N1 flu) in “preteens” reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services yesterday were reported in error."

Springfield Greene County Health Department officials say two people between the ages of 19 and 64 have been diagnosed with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.

The virus was discovered in the U.S. in April and there have been 68 cases in Missouri with only one death so far.

Jaci McReynolds is the spokesperson for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

She says there has been some confusion about the age of the infected Greene County residents.

“The state health department reported yesterday that there were two cases in Greene County in the pre-teen age group. We are not aware of these two cases. We are trying to find out more information to determine whether they are in fact valid cases at this time,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds says the health department cannot release any more information about these infected people.

She says Greene County residents should be extra cautious and continue practicing good hand washing techniques.“Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Also, keeping a distance of about six feet from people who are ill, who are coughing or sneezing or showing those symptoms,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds says if someone develops any flu like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or a cough, he or she should see a doctor immediately.

She says people in Greene County shouldn’t be too afraid of this virus.

“Here in the United States, we’ve seen 37,000 cases, but only 211 deaths, so we hate to lose that many people. Obviously, we hate to lose even one person, but I think it’s important to keep it in perspective and know that with a seasonal flu there are 36,000 people that die every year. So, when we compare the two we can see that the H1N1, so far, has been fairly mild,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds says researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working on a vaccine for the H1N1 virus.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.