Who has swine flu? Maybe you do!
In the months since it dominated headlines in April and May, swine flu has been quietly traveling the globe– and one of its recent destinations is right here in Charlottesville. In fact, according to doctors, it's quite likely someone you know has had it– even if they didn't realize it.
In addition to seven confirmed cases of swine flu in the Thomas Jefferson Health District, the five-county jurisdiction that includes Charlottesville and Albemarle.
"We've seen 15 cases," says Dr. Carlos Armengol, a pediatrician who works downtown at Pediatric Associates on 10th Street.
Armengol says the Centers for Disease Control is no longer confirming the virus unless an individual is sick enough to require hospitalization. In milder cases, an in-office flu test is conducted. Positive results for type A influenza are enough to assume swine flu, says Armengol.
That was the case at both UVA, where at least seven campers have reportedly been diagnosed, and at ACAC's summer camp on Four Seasons Drive, where in mid-June, a sign warned parents that a camper there had been diagnosed.
In a prepared statement, ACAC spokesperson Teppi LoSciuto says the camper didn't show symptoms while attending the camp, and that the alert the camp posted for parents was in accordance with advice from the Health Department. Directors of two other local camps, Triple C Camp and Field Camp, weren't aware of any cases among their campers. But even if that changes, Armengol says, parents shouldn't be overly alarmed.
"All the kids we've seen have had very mild symptoms," he says, "no sicker than with seasonal flu."
That's what some parents of ACAC campers say they're hoping for.
"In the absence of any information suggesting that the virus has evolved into a form more dangerous than has been reported over the last few months," Robert Nichols, father of an ACAC camper, said soon after the sign was posted. "I'm not overly concerned at this point."
Thomas Jefferson Health District epidemiologist Elizabeth Davies says that's the reaction she hopes others will share.
"I hate how this whole situation has people in such a panic," she says of swine flu in general. Davies says "basic daily measures" including frequent hand washing and avoiding others who are ill can offer protection.
"It is a new situation," she says, "but the prevention is so easy."