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Second NYC school closed over swine flu

April 28, 2009 9:32:03 PM PDT
New cases of suspected swine flu emerged in New York City on Tuesday, but most were considered mild. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that 82 of 380 students at P.S. 177, a school for autistic children, called in sick on Tuesday. The school will be closed on Wednesday as authorities investigate whether any of the cases are swine flu.
  • Swine Flu Resource Guide
  • ON THE NET: NYC Health Info
  • The city announced 45 confirmed cases, all affiliated with St. Francis Prep school in Queens. One of those 45 cases is actually a Nassau County resident.

    Some of the students at P.S. 177 have siblings at St. Francis.

    City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden also said Tuesday that "many hundreds" of schoolchildren are sick with suspected cases of swine flu.

    Bloomberg said two people are hospitalized with suspected swine flu.

    If they are found to be swine flu they would be the first in the U.S. connected to the outbreak.

    The mayor says the hospitalized are a child in the Bronx and an adult in Brooklyn.

    Ascension School on the Upper West Side in Manhattan is also being evaluated because students there are sick, Frieden said.

    There have been no confirmed cases of swine flu at either P.S. 177 or Ascension.

    Meantime, St. Francis Prep in Queens announced it will be closed for the rest of the week. School will reopen Monday.

    There are no additional cases, but officials said the closure is out of an abundance of caution.

    Also, the school wants to give the sick students time to go through the full incubation period.

    There were reports that an employee at Ernst Young also had swine flu, but the company said that is not the case. Officials said upon further examination by the company, it is appears that their employee does not have a confirmed case, and more likely has the common flu.

    The firm had told employees they could work from home today after the woman became ill on Sunday following contact with a relative who had been exposed to virus.

    In Albany on Tuesday morning, Gov. Paterson and health officials the statewide situation -- saying there are more reports of possible swine flu cases and they are all under investigation.

    "I would just like to inform all New Yorkers that we're taking every precaution imagineable to contain this virus," Gov. Paterson said.

    In New Jersey, health officials have identified five probable cases of swine flu.

    "The next seven days are absolutely critical -- either the number of cases in Mexico will rapidly accelerate, we'll see more deaths and realize all the different mutations this virus can adapt to. Or, it's going to plateau, if it plateaus, we're done," Dr. Mehmet Oz said.

    New York officials said the flu strain discovered in the patients here is similar to the one in Mexico, but not as severe at this point. They are still conducting tests to investigate the strain in New York and New Jersey.

    MORE ON THE SWINE FLU

    Swine flu is a respiratory infection caused by influenza type A viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can occur. Human cases typically involve people who have had direct contact with pigs, but likely person-to-person transmission has now been reported in California, Texas, Mexico and New York City. Again, the cases in Mexico have had a high fatality rate, but the confirmed cases in the U.S. have been mild and all patients have recovered without treatment.

    The symptoms of swine flu in people appear to be similar to the symptoms of regular seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. New Yorkers experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek health care and treatment. Otherwise, the health department recommends at-home care.

    The most effective way to lower the risk of influenza transmission is for people with symptoms to stay home. All New Yorkers should cover their mouths when they cough. Additional precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
  • Swine influenza cannot be transmitted from eating pork or pork products.

    For facts about influenza, and more information about swine flu, please visit the health department and CDC Web sites. Some specific resources:

    From New York City Health Department

    Facts about flu
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cdinflu.shtml

    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    General information about swine flu
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/general_info.htm

    Swine Flu Case Definitions
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/casedef_swineflu.htm

    Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care
    http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/guidelines_infection_control.htm

    Preventing the Flu
    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm

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