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More school closures due to swine flu

April 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two new probable cases of swine flu in Ventura County have closed two local schools for about one week. The schools join a list of several local schools that have closed as a precaution.VENTURA COUNTY

Ventura County health officials say a student at Charles Blackstock Junior High School and a student from Art Haycox Elementary School both tested positive for swine flu. The cases have not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it is highly likely they will be.

Both schools have been closed for the next week, sending more than 1,000 students from Blackstock and about 800 from Art Haycox home.

"The state and the federal government have both said and both directed local health departments to please treat both probable and confirmed cases the same," said Dr. Robert Levin, director of the Ventura County Health Department.

Levin said about 95 percent of all probable cases will turn out to be confirmed cases.

So far, Ventura County health officials say 11 people suffering flu-like symptoms have been tested for swine flu in the county. Outside of the two that tested positive, they say the rest came back negative.

The Ventura County Health Department said a public health nurse visited both children in their homes Wednesday night and said both the 13-year-old boy and the 9-year-old boy appear to be OK. She says both children are being treated with Tamiflu.

There were two children in the 9-year-old's home who also showed mild symptoms, so officials took test samples on them as well. Officials say the tests will take a few days.

School officials say suspending classes in one way to be safe.

"We can never be too cautious with the health of our children," said principal Jan Lee from Haycox Elementary. "Even though I'm not happy to have my school closed for a week, if it helps my children be safe, then I'm fully supportive."

The district said parents should keep their children at home and avoid contact with other kids for now.

"I think they're doing the right thing," said parent Sherry Petersen.

The schools join a list of other Southern California schools that are taking these measures to try to minimize the spread of the virus.

"Schools are easy places for viruses to replicate, and we can do things to try to prevent that," said Dr. Tony Knight, superintendent of Oak Park School.

Clinicas, the health agency that tested the sick students, say no one should take the virus lightly.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the two children and their families being monitored and treated for swine flu," said Clinicas CEO Roberto Juarez. "We fully expect this number, which is currently two, to increase as the concerns over swine flu grow."

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

There are no confirmed cases of swine flu in Los Angeles County, but L.A. County health officials are investigating two possible and two probable cases, one of them a Cal State Long Beach student.

A student who lives in the Los Alamitos residence hall went to health services with classic flu symptoms.

As of Thursday morning, there are no confirmed cases in any LAUSD schools.

Students who felt sick at a school in San Pedro were cleared to stay in class, and a swine flu tests returned negative for a girl at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Claremont. Classes will resume Thursday.

Schools that have not had a close call are taking precautions.

Los Angeles County emergency room doctors report a significant increase in potential patients, but most of those people are coming in with cold, not flu symptoms. Some have no symptoms at all.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

A Marine at Twentynine Palms base in San Bernardino County was confirmed with swine flu on Wednesday. He and his roommate are currently under quarantine, and 37 troops who had been in contract with the Marine were confined. Officials said the Marine had not been in Mexico, and is expected to recover.

San Bernardino County declared a local emergency on Thursday due to the Marine's confirmed case of swine flu. L.A. County declared a local emergency on Tuesday, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzegger declared a state of emergency on the same day.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

In the Inland Empire, at least four schools have been shut down because of the swine flu outbreak. Two new probable cases of swine flu were reported in Riverside County on Thursday, bringing the total number of probable cases to six. One case is a 6-year-old girl from Thousand Palms who recently traveled to Mexico.

Pollard High School in Corona is closed and their prom canceled while the CDC tests samples from a 16-year-old girl who felt sick.

"That's what hits most of the students who are just like that's our school, that's a kid we might have known. It's just really scary," said Crystal Reiche, a senior at Pollard High.

Pollard High campus is getting a thorough cleaning and the principal said by the time students return next Thursday things should be fine.

"They've informed us that the virus stays as long as two hours on a surface, so certainly by Monday everything that we missed will have, you know, died its natural death anyway," said the principal.

Mission Bell Elementary School in Jurupa and Indio High School are both closed until next Thursday as because of probable swine flu cases. Della S. Lindley Elementary School in Thousand Palms is the latest school to be closed after a sample from a 10-year-old student came back indicating a probable case of the swine flu.

The Cinco de Mayo festival in Corona, planned for this weekend, has been canceled over fears because of the virus.

ORANGE COUNTY

The Orange County Board of Supervisors declared a local state of emergency to deal with the swine flu on Thursday.

The announcement comes as public health officials reported the county's first two probable cases of the disease.

One is an 18-year-old boy attending University High School in Irvine. Health officials say the student has recovered and gone back to school. They say there is no need to shut down the school.

The second probable case is a 26-year-old man who's recovering at his home in Irvine. He has been given an anti-viral.

Health officials say the two cases are not related and that both men had traveled to Mexico separately.

"This is not surprising and there is no cause for alarm," said Dr. Eric Handler, from the Orange County Health Care Agency. "We are monitoring family members in close contact with both cases for signs of disease."

Neither was hospitalized and are both recovering.


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