Schools close amid swine flu fears

April 30, 2009 10:09:25 PM PDT
Parents who are not willing to risk it will keep their kids out of PS 21 in Flushing. It is the latest school tested by the health department for swine flu after a number of students came down with the flu on Wednesday.

Officials informed parents on Thursday that the school will remain open.

Despite assurances from Mayor Bloomberg and the health commissioner that canceling classes is not necessary. three Brooklyn Catholic schools shut down for disinfecting on Thursday.

P.S. 177, located near St. Francis Prep where New York City's outbreak is centered, remains closed.

Mayor Bloomberg urged the public to recognize the swine flu strain is not severe and worry is spreading faster than the virus.

New York City has 49 confirmed cases and 16 probable cases. One of the 16 probable cases is a student from Pace University. The student was hospitalized with influenza-like symptoms and is now recuperating at home. The student has not attended classes since being evaluated.

In New Jersey, two school-aged children are among the five confirmed swine flu cases in New Jersey, but health officials said schools have no need to worry.

The confirmed cases include a 47-year-old man, 14-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl from the same Burlington County family who recently traveled together to Mexico.

The children have not gone to school since returning, according to a Corzine administration official who spoke on condition on anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak about the cases.

The other two confirmed cases involve unrelated women - a 43-year-old from Monmouth County and a 22-year-old woman from Bergen County. One recently traveled to Mexico, the other to California.

Mexico is considered the epicenter of the swine flu outbreak. California has several confirmed cases.

The first five suspected New Jersey cases were announced on Monday and the CDC confirmed the cases on Thursday, said Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner.

The department has launched a stepped-up monitoring program involving doctors and hospitals statewide, Deputy Commissioner Dr.

Susan Walsh said. The department also has asked schools and day care centers to be watchful for children with influenza-like symptoms and report them to their local health departments.

New Jersey has stockpiled some 800,000 doses of Tamiflu and other antiviral medications.

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and include fever, lack of appetite, coughing and fatigue.

The U.S. cases have appeared to be much milder than the Mexican cases, although federal officials have said they expect to see more U.S. deaths from the virus.

Other area locations:

Orange County: One of the two probable cases is a NYC firefighter who lives in Orange Co. He started exhibiting symptons 3 or 4 days ago, and is recovering well at home. Health Dept did not have any other details about him. The rest of his fire company was tested and nobody else is suffering symptoms.

Westchester County: In addition to the three probable cases, the Archdiocese of NY says a student from St. Patrick's School in Bedford is being tested for swine flu. The child has not been in school since Thursday, April 23, has mild illness and is not hospitalized. The school is not being shut down, and attendance has not changed since April 20th.

  • 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