The New Mexico Department of Health is asking laboratories to send only hospitalized cases for testing of H1N1 to its Scientific Laboratory in Albuquerque, according to a Friday announcement in a press release.
The state's Epidemiology and Response Division is focusing on investigating hospitalized cases to monitor severity of H1N1 illness in New Mexico, the release said.
Nationally and in New Mexico, health officials expect there are many more cases of H1N1 than reported because sick people do not necessarily see a physician, and those who do are not always tested for influenza. For these reasons, the department will no longer report individual cases of H1N1.
The DOH will alert the media and publica bout hospitalized cases, or if the severity of disease changes in New Mexico.
"We have 22 clinics across New Mexico that will continue to report weekly on the percent of patient visits with influenza-like illness. Each week, we will publish a report based on this information. The report will be available at: [ http://nmhealth.org/FLU/seasonal/swine_flu.html ]http://nmhealth.org/FLU/seasonal/swine_flu.html. Epidemiologists will also investigate clusters of cases in long-term care settings to prevent the spread of disease," the release said.
"So far in New Mexico, we have seen mild H1N1 illness and most people have recovered. We continue to recommend that people wash their hands frequently, cover their cough with a tissue or arm and stay home when they are sick. People who are sick with fever and cough or sore throat should call their doctor for advice. During our usual influenza season, 55 clinics and laboratories report influenza-like illness to us from October to May, which helps us track flu activity statewide," the release said.
Department of Health: [ http://nmhealth.org/FLU/seasonal/swine_flu.html ]http://nmhealth.org/FLU/seasonal/swine_flu.html
CDC: [ http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ ]http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ or 1-800-CDC-INFO