Kloe Pasket, a first grader at Chamberlin Elementary, has been sitting at home for a week waiting out an illness.
“My daughter has H1N1,” said Shelia Pasket, Kloe’s mother. “She took the test on Monday.”
With flu season now descending on local schools, clinics and offices, many parents are concerned that their child’s cough could be more than just the common cold. So when Kloe complained that she didn’t feel well, Shelia did what parents do and took her daughter to the doctor.
“They did the swab and 15 minutes later the nurse said, ‘She has Type A H1N1 flu virus,’” Shelia said. “She will be out of school all week.”
Kloe was given a prescription for Tamiflu - one of the most widely used influenza treatments.
Stephenville ISD Superintendent Dr. Darrell Floyd said, although absenteeism is up, school officials are having a hard time determining if a specific strain has hit campuses. Schools are no longer receiving documentation proving whether or not a student was diagnosed with H1N1, unlike last spring.
The county has, however, reported rapid tests showing positive for flu, according to a weekly flu surveillance report from the Texas Department of State and Health Services (DSHS).
But fear might be leading to misunderstanding when it comes to the flu and H1N1.
The rapid flu test is a simple test performed in doctor offices across the state, but the test cannot delineate flu subtypes.
“The rapid flu test only confirms A or B,” said Dr. Linda Heflin.
The DSHS report lists five different subtypes under type A, one of which is H1N1. But pinning down concrete numbers can prove difficult.
One reason, Heflin said, is that the Center for Disease Control has set guidelines telling healthcare providers when the more detailed, and more expensive, specimen test should be requested. In the meantime, if a patient tests positive for type A, then it is “highly probable” that the patient does have H1N1 - but not definite.
But even if a patient does have H1N1, the treatment remains the same in most cases.
“It’s really irrelevant,” Floyd said. “The precautions and the procedures are the same.”
Floyd reminds parents to visit the district’s Web site at www.sville.us and review what steps they need to take if their child does become sick.