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17 cases of swine flu in California

May 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The California Department of Public Health has confirmed 17 swine flu cases in the state as of Friday, including eight in San Diego County, five in Imperial County, and one in San Bernardino County. This does not include two confirmed cases at Camp Pendleton.There are also 55 probable cases statewide, including three in Los Angeles County, two in Orange County, two in Ventura County, and eight in Riverside County.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

No cases of swine flu have been confirmed yet in Los Angeles County. But some residents are so concerned they have the swine flu, they're rushing to hospital emergency rooms. Some people are alarmed even about mild symptoms.

At White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights it's been so busy that hospital officials have had to bring in extra doctors and nurses. On a normal day the hospital will get 90 to 100 patients in the ER, but it's been closer to 200 per day this week.

"Our numbers are 60 to 100 percent higher than they normally are," said Dr. Brian Johnston from White Memorial Medical Center. "People are coming in saying they've got a sore throat and a fever, and a runny nose, and they're worried about it."

White Memorial may be seeing the epicenter of concern, serving a 90-percent Latino population. Many of them have loved ones in Mexico.

According to the director of the county's Department of Public Health, over-reaction is not widespread.

"There are fewer emergency rooms that have reported a significant increase," said Fielding. "Others say they haven't seen an increase, so I think it's variable in Los Angeles County at this point."

Yet some California hospitals are preparing for more cases of the virus. A big tent has been set up to segregate patients at Loma Linda Hospital, and there's a larger one in the Bay area. They are only precautions in case the flu spreads or mutates into a more severe strain.

"We don't know whether it will change to a significant degree, we don't know," said Fielding. "That's why we're monitoring the situation carefully, as is the CDC and the World Health Organization."

So far there are 17 confirmed cases in California. In Los Angeles County there are three probable cases. The specimen for a Cal State Long Beach student has been on standby while the state lab gears up for testing. That means the virus does not match any known human strains.

Health officials say they expect to get the results on the Cal State Long Beach student on Saturday morning. In the meantime, Dr. Fielding says the department expects some cases will be confirmed over the weekend.

Some emergency room doctors say most people are coming in with cold, not flu, symptoms. Some have no symptoms at all.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

Two more probable cases of swine flu were identified Friday in Riverside County, bringing the total to eight. One case is a 6-year-old girl from Thousand Palms who recently traveled to Mexico.

Four schools in the county have extended their closures to 14 days as a precaution.

Pollard High School in Corona is closed until May 13 and their prom canceled while the CDC tests samples from a 16-year-old girl who felt sick.

Mission Bell Elementary School in Jurupa and Indio High School are both closed until May 13 because of probable swine flu cases. Della S. Lindley Elementary School in Thousand Palms is also closed until May 14 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.

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.

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

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.

ORANGE COUNTY

The Orange County Board of Supervisors declared a local state of emergency Thursday after 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. Neither was hospitalized and are both recovering.


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