Spokane, WA- As more human cases of (H1N1) swine influenza A virus infection are identified in the United States and internationally, the Spokane Regional Health District continues to work closely with other public health agencies and community partners to implement prevention and control measures.

Washington State currently reports 35 probable cases, and health officials say that more cases are likely to be identified over the next days and weeks.

"We know that this virus is in our area, and the important thing for people to do is to try to avoid getting or spreading the H1N1 swine virus," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. "Although the virus is primarily causing mild symptoms, serious symptoms can occur."

Dr. McCullough cautions that getting an accurate number of those who are ill with this virus is getting to be more difficult. "People naturally want to know how many cases of this virus are here. Unfortunately the labs are getting a backlog, and the confirmation process can take several weeks, so a reliable count of cases is just not possible. Also, there are likely many people who have mild symptoms who do not seek medical care."

Washington State's Department of Health has received a shipment of antiviral medications and supplies, which will be distributed across the state over the next few days. Spokane's supply should arrive tomorrow. The supplies will be used to help protect health care workers and emergency medical staff who care for those who are ill, and the antiviral medications are to be used to treat people who have serious symptoms.

Dr. McCullough says that as health officials continue to learn more about the virus and its spread, recommendations for slowing the spread of the illness will likely be modified. "Each day we learn more about this new virus, which helps us to take steps to protect the community's health."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 286 cases of H1N1 swine flu in 36 U.S. states, including one death. There are also 700 probable cases in 44 states. There have been 35 hospitalizations known to be linked to this virus. The World Health Organization says there are about 900 confirmed cases in 18 countries.

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