Thursday, April 30, 2009

Health Officials Say 8 NYC Students Had Swine Flu

Health Officials Say 8 NYC Students Had Swine Flu
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 25, 2009

New York City Health officials reported today that at least eight students at a private high school had "probable" swine flu.

About 200 of the 2,700 students attending St. Francis Preparatory High School in the Queens borough of the city missed school earlier in the week due to fever, sore throats and other flu-like symptoms, prompting school officials to notify the health department.

Investigators interviewed more than 100 students and their family members. All had mild symptoms and none were hospitalized, but some family members had developed similar symptoms, indicating their illness had spread in the family, according to Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden.

A preliminary analysis of viral samples obtained from nose and throat swabs from nine affected students found that eight tested positive for influenza A. Because none matched the known H1 and H3 subtypes of human flu, they were considered "probable cases of swine flu," Frieden said. The samples have been sent to the CDC for further analysis. Those results were expected on Sunday. If the tests come back positive, officials plan to ask that the school remain closed on Monday, Frieden said.

"We're concerned," Frieden said. "When we see the serious cases in Mexico, and we see it spreading fairly rapid in one school. It's a situation that has to be monitored very carefully."

The health department had sent out an alert to all doctors and hospitals throughout the city to be on the look-out for more cases, and were monitoring a citywide surveillance system for any alarming increase in respiratory illnesses, Frieden said. So far no increase had occurred, but officials were continuing to monitor the situation. Officials were also investigating a cluster of illness at a daycare center in the Bronx, he said.

"We're just going to have to take this hour by hour and day by day and see what develops as we go forward," he said.

The St. Francis students had just returned from spring break, during which time some may have traveled to Mexico, he said.

Health officials advised anyone who developed similar symptoms to stay home and seek treatment, and residents to take precautions such as washing their hands and avoiding close contact with sick people.

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