Probable cases of swine flu close elementary school in Pittsburg


Highlands Elementary School in Pittsburg is closed today in response to three students who have been diagnosed with probable cases of the swine flu, Contra Costa Health Services spokeswoman Kate Fowlie said.

The school will remain closed until May 6, a Pittsburg Unified School District employee said. As of 8 a.m., no other schools in the district were closed.

Thirteen students in the same class at Highlands Elementary School were sent home with flu-like symptoms Tuesday, according to Superintendent Barbara Wilson. She said the school quickly tripled its custodial staff to clean the classroom and areas students would go as a group.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District officials are being proactive on swine flu concerns. District spokesman Terry Koehne said that despite the fact that there are no cases of the illness they are sending information home to educate parents on the best way to keep from contracting the illness or spreading it.

Bay Area health officials Tuesday began reporting the region's first probable cases of swine flu.

Jelissa Walker, an infectious diseases nurse at San Ramon Regional Medical Center, said the hospital hasn't had anyone come in with flu-like symptoms, but she's notified her staff to be on the lookout just to be overcautious.

"I put it out to our emergency room that if they see anybody coming in with funky respiratory illnesses, with a fever and maybe some abdominal issues, to just keep me apprised, but we haven't seen anything coming through our doors," she said.

The regular flu season goes from October to the end of April and this year has been relatively minor in the number of cases, which means San Ramon Regional has a healthy stock of Tamiflu, which has effectively been treating swine flu cases.

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Mark Horton said a probable case means lab officials identified the virus as influenza A, the same category of influenza as the swine flu. However, health officials still have not determined whether the sub type of the influenza A is the swine flu.

Another Bay Area school was closed today in response to the swine flu outbreak.

A student from Branham High School in San Jose tested positive for swine flu, forcing the closure of the school until May 6, according to the Campbell Union High School District.

The student was last in school Thursday, but to limit exposure the Santa Clara County Department of Health and the school district decided to close the high school for a week, according to the school district's Web site.

Two probable cases of swine flu have also been reported in Marin County.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in response to the virus Tuesday morning, which allows the California Emergency Management Agency to work with the state Department of Public Health to prevent the disease from spreading, governor's spokesman Jeff Macedo said.

The swine flu, as of 8 a.m. today, has also sickened 51 people in New York City, 16 in Texas, two in Kansas, two in Massachusetts, two in Michigan, one in Nevada, one in Arizona, one in Indiana and one in Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 100 deaths in Mexico are suspected of being related to the virus.

The swine flu outbreak was first reported in the U.S. in late March in Southern California and Texas, according to health officials. It is spread mainly person-to-person through coughing and sneezing.

Though not airborne, the virus can spread through germs. Residents are advised to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths.

Geoff Gillette and Janet Pelletier contributed to this story.


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:20 am

We need to stop illegal immigration. Swine flu is just one of the many diseases that are flooding over from Mexico. I have family who are nurses and it is a fact that they perpetually see cases of tuberculosis coming from people who can't speak english and are obviously illegal immigrants from Mexico. Obama was confronted with the question if he's going to close the borders, and he said it would be akin to closing the barn doors when the horses already escaped. WRONG! A few horses have escaped. We must close the door before the rest do. Mexico is on the verge of cataclysmic state and economic failure, all due to their own fault, not ours. If our borders stay open, they will flood over, drug cartels, diseases and all, as has already been happening. I know that sounds 2-dimensional and even cruel, but unfortunately it's the truth. I'm sorry. There's a reason most first world countries are advising against travel to Mexico. We can not fix the Mexicans burdens by wasting our money and taking on third-world diseases.

Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Apr 30, 2009 at 10:27 am

Take a good hard look at where the swine flu is popping up in the Bay Area, via whom.

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