Swine flu worries shut LI school district

May 4, 2009 3:42:51 AM PDT
The entire Deer Park School District will be closed this week. The closings affects more than four thousand students.

The decision was made as the number of probable swine flu cases in Suffolk County rose.

Three probable swine flu cases emerged at JFK Intermediate School.

At a news conference on Sunday the county health commissioner said the new probable cases involve girls from JFK Intermediate ages 9 and 11.

"The majority that are probable have been confirmed, so our working assumption is they will be confirmed," Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. Humayun Chaudhry said.

The new potential cases in Deer Park raise the total number on Long Island to six probable and one confirmed.

With half being JFK Intermediate students, the district decided to take extreme measures and close all schools.

"You can imagine the level of concern felt by our families," superintendant Elizabeth Marino said. "We felt it prudent to have a week in which we could clear the air and still the waters."

JFK Intermediate remained open last week as it dealt with its first probable case involving a 10-year-old girl, but reported a third of its students stayed home anyway.

"My son is 11. She's 10. We didn't know what grade she was in and now there are two new probable," one worried parent exais.

Other parents are questioning the decision to close all schools in the district, especially since its exam time "These are college credits. We pay additional money. My daughter is taking 7 of them, so its a big concern to us," Frank Lieneck said.

Still, health officials point out it is not just Deer Park closing, but more than 400 schools remain closed nationwide.

So far, the new cases in Deer Park do not seem to have a connection to St. Francis Prep in Queens, which shut down last week and reopens on Monday. The school is known as the epicenter of the cases in New York.

"None of the cases are related to each other, nor, according to our info, had contact with each other. There is also no known direct link between the cases of the girls in Deer Park and any travel outside the country or St. Francis Prep," Dr. Chaudhry said.

All after-school activities in the Deer Park district are also canceled this week.

The potential victims we are told have mild symptons. None were not hospitalized.

State health officials said another probable case of swine flu has been found outside of New York City. That brings the total of "probable or confirmed" cases of the illness outside of New York City to 17.

  • St. Francis Prep to open Monday


    New Jersey health officials have confirmed two more cases of swine flu in New Jersey and an additional probable case.

    So far, seven people in New Jersey have been determined to have the virus. Tests on an eighth person have been sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services says all seven confirmed cases are mild forms of the flu and no one has been hospitalized.

    In at least five of the seven confirmed cases, people traveled to California or Mexico.


    A child from Middlefield has tested positive for the swine flu virus, becoming the second confirmed case in Connecticut.

    Gov. Jodi Rell said Saturday that a positive test was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Department of Public Health Laboratory also has identified six more people who have probable cases of swine flu in the state.

    They include five students at Fairfield University and a child from Wethersfield.

    Two other students at Fairfield University and adults in Fairfield and Glastonbury have probable cases of the disease. Test results from a person from Southbury were inconclusive and more tests are planned.

    All of those with confirmed or probable cases of the swine flu are recovering. None has been hospitalized.

  • Eyewitness News Swine Flu Resource Guide
  • Swine Flu Resource Guide
  • ON THE NET: NYC Health Info

    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

    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    General information about swine flu

    Swine Flu Case Definitions

    Swine Flu Infection Control and Patient Care

    Preventing the Flu