Fort Gordon announced its seventh and eighth confirmed cases of the novel influenza A H1N1 virus today as it continues its vigilance for an outbreak.
The latest cases were in a 31-year-old soldier who went to Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center on June 27 and a 44-year-old retiree who was seen on June 30. The soldier was briefly hospitalized before being sent home.
There is “absolutely not” an outbreak at the post, spokeswoman Marla Jones said, but the fort is testing patients with flu-like symptoms in a “proactive” effort to look for one. Part of the concern is the 5,000 or so trainees on site, she said.
“This is the population we’re most concerned about if something started spreading,” Ms. Jones said. “They’re together all the time. They live together and they go to class together.”
The fort has contingency plans in place to isolate the sick in separate barracks, she said. All of the confirmed cases for Richmond County so far have occurred at Fort Gordon but Ms. Jones said that might be because the fort is testing many patients with influenza-like illness and others currently are not.
Last month, Georgia changed its testing criteria to lab-confirm only cases that met certain circumstances, such as someone hospitalized with severe flu-like illnesses, or hospitalized infants and the elderly where the virus is a suspected cause. The testing is now aimed not at detecting every case but to determine if the virus is turning more virulent. The state will also test flu-like outbreaks or clusters, particularly in camps, but will only do a few samples.
South Carolina also prioritizes lab testing to outbreaks, hospitalized patients and those who have died of flu-like illness.
As of Wednesday, Georgia had 143 confirmed cases (counting only five from Richmond County). South Carolina’s last count from June 24 was 176 cases, including 10 from Aiken County. Nationally, there have been nearly 34,000 confirmed cases and 170 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but officials estimate more than 1 million people have probably been infected and most have recovered without treatment.