ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 11, 2009
H1N1 Influenza Confirmed Among Some ELCA Youth Gathering Participants
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Health officials in North Dakota and South Dakota have confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza among teenagers and adults who attended the 2009 Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). About 37,000 teenagers, adult leaders and volunteers attended the gathering held in New Orleans, July 22-26.
North Dakota health officials reported that five teenagers and adults who attended the gathering tested positive for the novel H1N1 influenza. The affected individuals are from the state's Walsh and Traill counties.
According to Tracy Miller, epidemiologist, North Dakota Department of Health Services, 26 individuals reported flu-like symptoms after returning home from the gathering.
"Of the 26 individuals who became ill, we collected samples from five and all five tested positive for the novel H1N1," Miller told the ELCA News Service Aug. 10. None of the individuals was hospitalized, she said.
"This cluster of H1N1 cases reinforces the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of influenza, both novel H1N1 and seasonal influenza," Miller said in an Aug. 10 news release from the North Dakota Department of Health.
In South Dakota, there are "three confirmed cases from three different groups of kids," said Lon Kightlinger, epidemiologist, South Dakota Department of Health Services. All three cases did not require hospitalization, he said.
"Given the prevalence of this virus in the United States today, Youth Gathering staff prepared a course of action should someone present flu-like symptoms while in New Orleans," said Heidi Hagstrom, director, ELCA Youth Gathering.
"As part of its overall risk management plan, Youth Gathering staff consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," she said. Staff was advised that should participants have flu-like symptoms at the Youth Gathering, participants "should seek medical consultation and then those individuals should be quarantined."
This information was shared with adult leaders during a mandatory orientation on the opening day of the gathering, Hagstrom said, adding that there were no public health advisories in place that should have led any group to consider not attending the gathering.
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Information about the Youth Gathering is at http://www.ELCA.org/gathering on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog