State health officials says there are now 29 probable cases of the H1N1 flu virus in Iowa. Twenty-seven of those cases are located in the Marshalltown area.
La Rae Schilling is the Chief Nursing Officer at Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center. She says they’ve sent in swabs from 128 patients with H1N1 symptoms to the state lab for testing. Across the state, just over 70% of the samples sent to the state lab have come back as probable cases.
Those samples are then sent to a federal lab for confirmation. The state’s only confirmed case of H1N1 is in Des Moines County. No patients in Marshalltown have required hospitalization, but Schilling says the hospital has received hundreds of calls to a special flu hotline.
"We are sending probably two-thirds of those patients that are calling to the special emergency flu clinic," Schilling said.
"The others are going to the E-R or their physicians because it’s not the flu that they are calling about." Nearly 150 patients have attended a flu clinic at the hospital as of this morning.
Schilling says the clinic is "like running two E-Rs." She expects the numbers to double in the coming days as local residents learn about the 27 probable cases. Marshall County Public Health Director Tina Coleman says the individuals identified as probable H1N1 cases are interviewed to determine if there are other people that should be tested or treated.
"They tell us (about) every person they’ve been in contact with from that 24-hour period prior to symptoms through (the following) seven days," Coleman said. Classes at Marshalltown schools have been cancelled this week. Students are likely to return on Monday. In addition to the 27 cases in Marshall County, single probable cases of the new virus have also been identified in Polk and Story Counties.
Find out more information on H1N1 on the Iowa Department of Public Health website.