Ocean County’s Official Swine Flu Count Reaches 7, But Real Number is Higher


lakewoodSwine flu was designated yesterday as the first global pandemic in 41 years, as the number of cases in Ocean County rose to seven, officials for the county health department confirmed, though Matzav.com has learned that the number is higher, with cases not known by the health department. Matzav.com is aware of at least about a handful of cases that the health department is not aware of  A child in Jackson and another in Barnegat each have also tested positive for the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. The children’s ages and genders were not released by the county Health Department.

Yesterday’s pandemic designation by the World Health Organization does not mean the virus is any more lethal – only that its spread is considered unstoppable. Since it was first detected in late April in Mexico and the United States, swine flu has reached 74 countries, infecting nearly 29,000 people. Most who catch the bug have only mild symptoms and do not need medical treatment.

No one has died from swine flu in New Jersey.

There are at least 235 cases of confirmed swine flu throughout the New Jersey, according the the state Department of Health and Senior Services Web site. Those figures were updated Wednesday, and they do not reflect the latest confirmed cases in Ocean County.

There is at least one case of the virus confirmed in 16 of New Jersey’s 21 counties. In Monmouth County, 29 cases were confirmed as of Wednesday – the highest number in the state. The virus spread rapidly through an Asbury Park elementary school earlier this month, which caused faculty and student attendance to plummet.

About 95 more people might have swine flu, according to the state’s numbers last updated Wednesday. Those probable cases are awaiting laboratory confirmations. However, the number of probable cases rose to 113 statewide Thursday, county Health Department spokeswoman Leslie Terjesen said. And of those, at least 33 people are being tested for the virus in Ocean County, the county Board of Freeholders announced Wednesday.

“The numbers are changing by the hour,” Terjesen said.

Only people who are going to the hospital with flulike symptoms are being tested for the virus, Terjesen said. So there might be more people with the virus, because people with mild flu symptoms are staying home and not going to the hospital.

A few possible but unconfirmed cases also have surfaced at Holy Family School in Lakewood.

Principal Robert Andrews said doctors have informed him of a few students who have been diagnosed with a strain of the virus. He would not be more specific with the number of students but said, overall, six have shown flulike symptoms in recent days.

Andrews said he has sent two letters home to parents and notified the Ocean County Board of Health regarding the possible swine flu cases. Other probable cases were confirmed in private Lakewood yeshivos, township police had said.

Tests are being conducted by family doctors throughout the county for A-type influenza, which consists of seasonal flus and swine flu, county health officials said in a prepared statement. A positive test for A-type flu does not mean a person has the H1N1virus.

{APP/Noam Amdurski, Matzav.com}