Heath officials await confirmation of ‘possible’ Winchester swine flu diagnosis
Joe Tabbi, a health agent with the Winchester Board of Health, announced Monday that a possible case of H1N1 (swine) flu had been reported by the Winchester Hospital.
Tabbi initially said a Winchester resident might have contracted the virus, but on Tuesday he changed his statement saying no Winchester residents have exhibited signs of the illness.
“We have one possible case of H1N1 flu,” said Tabbi, during the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday.
According to Tabbi, the Winchester Hospital notified him of the possible case at about 4 p.m.
Health officials have been testing for the virus in a state laboratory in Jamaica Plain. No additional information could be obtained from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday, but a total of 34 cases have been reported statewide.
“People should assume the flu is here and we should all be taking steps to protect ourselves from contracting it,” said Tom Lyons, and information officer with the DPH.
Tabbi is filling in as the health director while Jennifer Murphy is on vacation in Florida. He said the Health Department is taking all the necessary precautions in case an outbreak occurs in Winchester.
“We are in contact with the school department and the hospital,” Tabbi said. “We are working as a team, and if an outbreak does happen, we are ready for it.”
The “H1N1 virus,” which health officials say contains mostly swine components (but also shares human and avian influenza characteristics), has been spreading across the globe. Federal health officials have cautiously warned of a possible pandemic.
A majority of the cases of swine flu reported in Massachusetts have occurred in Middlesex County, according to the DPH. A total of 23 people out of 34, who have tested positive for swine flu live in Middlesex County.