Swine flu hits New York schools

By Brendan Sherwood

Swine Flu Virus

Swine Flu Virus Source: Nationalgeographic.com

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in New York state has risen to 90, the Associated Press reported today. This data does not include an estimated 1000 cases in New York City, according to the Straits Times. St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens reopened today for the first time in a week after about 1000 students caught swine flu. Marist College does not expect to close but has issued instructions in case students catch the virus.

According to Bloomberg, the CDC reported 286 cases of swine flu in 36 states with one death so far. At least 533 schools in 24 states were closed today. The swine flu, also known as “the H1N1 virus,” is most active in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It affected the largest number of people in Mexico, where people are currently responding well to antiviral treatments. The symptoms are so far similar to those of seasonal flu, but could worsen as seasons change.

The Associated Press reported that health officials are testing for swine flu in New York and found three more cases on Saturday, but “no one is seriously ill and many people being tested are turning out not to have the disease.” State Health Commissioner Richard Daines said that many of the test results show common flu viruses.

Two more New York schools closed recently, the Deer Park Union Free School District on Long Island and the Ed Smith Elementary School in Syracuse. The Long Island school is closed until May 10 due to three “probable cases” of swine flu and the Syracuse school is closed due to one probable case.

A nurse practitioner at Marist College Health Services who wishes to remain anonymous does not think the school will close even if some students catch swine flu. She recalled a severe flu during the 2007 to 2008 school year when several ill students were retained in the Billiards Room next to the Health Services office. Students who had the flu were urged to go home and not to go to classes or “communal places” for five days. There is no infirmary on campus and the college has never shut down due to an illness.

The most recent action Marist College Health Services took concerning swine flu was to send an informational e-mail to the students. The e-mail discouraged spreading rumors about the virus and said that there have been no known cases in the Marist College community. It details what to do if students become ill, including staying away from others and having good hygeine. It also gave some of the symptoms of swine flu (H1N1), which can include fever, body aches and pains, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, and sore throat. It notifies students that flu vaccines do not protect against the illness.

The Marist Health Services website has more detailed information about swine flu, including advice for those with flu-like symptoms. This advice includes calling Health Services, taking antiviral medication, taking Tylenol or Advil, and drinking plenty of fluids. It has links to other health websites like the CDC and World Health Organization.

Marist College Health Services works closely with the Dutchess County Public Health Department and the CDC. When the nurse practitioner was asked if she knew what the college would do if students caught swine flu, she said students would be sent home and urged to talk to close contacts like roommates. She said, “We have a plan ready, but the biggest thing is what the individual can do.”


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