Two Swine Flu Cases Confirmed on Molokai

Scale of confirmed cases falsely reported

By Melissa Kelsey

Two Molokai influenza cases tested positive for the H1N1 “swine flu” virus last weekend, according to Janice Okubo, Public Information Officer at the state of Hawaii Department of Public Health (DOH). She added that other cases are currently being tested. 

Earlier this week, Hawaii radio and television stations falsely reported that there had been 20 confirmed cases among Molokai firefighters.

“There is no clear basis to declare an outbreak of this sort,” wrote Mahina Martin, Maui County Community Relations and Communications Director, in a Monday statement addressing the false reports.

Only one of the two confirmed swine flu cases on Molokai was a firefighter, according to Martin.

No Need to Panic
Swine flu is currently behaving very similar to other seasonal flu strains, and the DOH does not believe that it is a serious threat to people, according to Okubo.

“It is not a time to be overly concerned,” said Okubo. “We do not want people to be overly worried about the situation.”    

However, Okubo added that the virus is riskier for those who have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, as well as the elderly.

Getting the Facts
Swine flu symptoms are any combination of coughing, sore throat and fever over 100 degrees, according to Dr. Lauren Pang, the DOH Maui District Health Officer currently on Molokai to do public outreach education. Pang said swine flu spreads in air droplets when people sneeze or cough within six feet of other people. The virus remains on surfaces people cough onto, such as writing utensils and furniture, for up to three days in air conditioned spaces. If the germs are on a person’s hands, they can catch swine flu by touching their eyes or nose.  

Okubo said people who feel sick should not attend large group gatherings and should isolate themselves as much as possible. Employees should stay home from work if they are sick, and children should stay home from school if they are sick. Frequent hand washing is encouraged, and well as covering the mouth while coughing and sneezing.

“We are asking people to take cautions and do what they can to prevent its spread,” said Okubo. 

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