Mild H1N1 case confirmed in Routt County

Unidentified patient already recovered, local health officials say

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— Routt County's first case of H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, has come and gone before it was confirmed.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association reported today that one case was confirmed, but "the case was mild, and the person is fully recovered."

The test was submitted from a Routt County physician to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Monday, and results came back positive Wednesday.

VNA spokeswoman Suzi Mariano said the positive result will not change anything in local health response protocol.

"At this time across the United States, the H1N1 flu continues to behave very similarly to seasonal flu. It is a relatively mild disease with a spectrum of illness," Mariano said.

The VNA would not release the gender or age of the person who had a positive test result, or the name or location of the physician who submitted the test.

Mariano said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on how to handle the H1N1 virus have loosened in recent weeks, and the threshold for tests has increased.

"We're only testing people with significant symptoms or illness," she said.

The person with the positive results did not meet that criteria, but officials were worried the person may have been part of a small outbreak. The worries about an outbreak appeared unfounded because no other tests came back positive for H1N1.

"There was some thought that maybe there were other people in the environment who were sick, but that didn't turn out to be the case," Mariano said.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokeswoman Lori Maldonado said that even though the H1N1 virus is not as potent or lethal as initially expected, her agency still recommends that people take extra precautions.

"I think it's something that they want to watch because it's a new virus," she said. "Not to minimize it at all, but not to create unnecessary panic among people."

Maldonado said her office will keep track of potential clusters or outbreaks and would send staff if a hotspot develops.

According to the VNA, there have been 101 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Colorado.

The VNA says flu-like symptoms include a fever higher than 100 degrees, body aches, cough, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People experiencing such symptoms are advised to stay home and avoid contact with others. A VNA news release says people with mild symptoms don't need to be tested, but people with severe symptoms should seek medical care from their primary physician.

Other steps to help prevent the spread of the flu include:

- Avoid close contact with sick people

- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

- Wash your hands frequently

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

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