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State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin

Bulletin No. 1
January 20, 1978
Flu in Alaska - Parainfluenza Type III

Widespread outbreaks of upper respiratory illness have occurred throughout Alaska in the past month. The illness has been characterized by chills, fever, runny nose, muscle aches, productive cough, weakness, malaise, and nausea. About half of the patients complained of severe sore throat. Many patients have had temperature elevations to 103F, lasting two to three days. Viral cultures obtained from patients presenting with this clinical picture in various parts of the state have been positive for parainfluenza Type III.

During the second week in January, an outbreak of upper respiratory illness struck the Murphy Dome Air Force Radar Site. Within seven days of the arrival at the site of a man from Denver, Colorado, who had symptoms as described above, nine active duty persons between the ages of 20 and 27 developed similar symptoms. These nine patients lived in confined quarters and worked together closely. A few days later the wife of one of the nine men also developed similar symptoms. Parainfluenza Type III virus was recovered from five of ten patients.(Reported by Anthony Allen, Medical Technician, Murphy Dome, Air Force Radar Site)

A large outbreak of upper respiratory illness compatible with parainfluenza Type III has been reported from Petersburg. One hundred and one of 590 school children were absent from school on January 20. Viral specimens are being obtained to confirm the diagnosis.(Reported by Beatrice Espeseth, PHN, Petersburg)

Epidemic Influenza Hits U.S. -- Is Alaska Next in Line

Forty eight of the 50 states have reported outbreaks of influenza to the Center for Disease Control. Many states have had severe outbreaks resulting in school closings and industrial shutdowns. Influenza viruses resembling A/Texas/1/77 and A/Victoria/3/75 have been isolated, but most of the illness is being caused by the A/Texas strain. In March and April, 1977, widespread outbreaks of A/Texas influenza occurred throughout Alaska. So far influenza virus has not been isolated in Alaska and there have been no outbreaks of upper respiratory illness confirmed to be caused by influenza. However, we have no doubt but the A/Texas influenza is on its way.

In addition to epidemic A/Texas influenza throughout the United States and many nations throughout the world, a new strain of influenza, A/USSR/90/77 (H1N1) has been reported from Russia, China, and Hong Kong. In addition, isolates have been recovered from Taiwan, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. It is predicted that this new strain of virus will cause widespread disease throughout the United States at the end of this year's flu season or next year. No strains of the H1N1 virus have been isolated in the United States to date.


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