Isolated Athens area flu case baffles health officials

WATKINSVILLE, Ga. -- Public health officials are not sure where a 15-year-old Oconee County girl contracted the H1N1 swine flu virus, but she doesn't seem to be passing it on.

The girl had the first diagnosed case of swine flu in the Athens area.

No one in her family has shown any signs of having caught the flu, and no other cases have been confirmed in the Athens area, Steven Dumpert, a risk communicator with the Northeast Health District, said Monday. The girl was diagnosed after a doctor's visit June 23.

People should not change their habits because a confirmed case of H1N1 flu has been reported in the area, Dumpert said. He encouraged people to keep covering their mouths when they cough and sneeze and to keep washing their hands, but added that many people probably already have had contact with the virus. There likely have been other undiagnosed cases of H1N1 in the 10-county Northeast Health District, which stretches from Walton County to Elbert County, Dumpert said. The 15-year-old girl is just the first person to have a laboratory-confirmed case.

Georgia has had more than 100 confirmed cases of the virus, but public health officials believe many more people have gotten sick with swine flu and recovered without seeking medical attention or even realizing they had the flu.

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