SPOKANE, WA -- Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Health Officer Dr. Joel McCullough spoke with local media this afternoon to provide updated information on the H1N1 flu outbreak.

"I know that the information on this situation has and will continue to change, and I understand that can be confusing for people," said Dr. McCullough. "I wish I had solid answers, but because this is a brand new virus, we are learning more about it every day. Our information and recommendations will likely change frequently. Please know that we will keep the community updated as we learn more."

National public health officials say that so far there is no indication that the H1N1 is worse that the seasonal flu that circulates every year. That said they caution that this is still something that people should take seriously; because although it causes mild illness in most people, more serious symptoms are possible.

Statewide there are now 16 probable cases, with 2 in Spokane County. The Health District is investigating contacts of the first two likely cases. According to Dr. McCullough, the second case is a school-aged child who is a member of the first cases' family. "Because this child was not at school during the time he would have been contagious, we do not believe that there was an exposure risk at the school."

As this is a new influenza virus, the Health District is continuing to aggressively monitor the situation and illness reports in Spokane and say that because the illness is easily spread, we can expect to see more H1N1 illness in our community. The community is encouraged to continue health practices, including covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and staying home if sick.

The SRHD's Call Center will be reactivated if conditions warrant. A 24-hour line is available at 1-800-CDC-INFO. The Washington State Department of Health has launched a new menu-driven recorded line with basic information, symptoms, prevention, treatment and what to do if you're sick: 1-888-703-4364.

International World Health Organization

National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

State of Washington Washington State Department of Health

Spokane County Spokane Regional Health District (visit "In the News")