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First LAUSD Student Tests Probable for Swine Flu

Los Angeles WAVE, News Report, Posted: May 08, 2009

A Fairfax High School student has become the first Los Angeles Unified School District student with a probable case of swine flu, district officials announced Tuesday.

The school will remain open, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said Tuesday night, based on recommendations from Dr. Kimberly Uyeda, the districts director of medical services, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

The Centers for Disease Control advised school administrators Tuesday that school closure is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of the swine flu and in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the schools ability to function.

There is no outbreak of flu-like illness at the school, nor are there excessive absences among students and staff, the districts Gayle Pollard-Terry said.

United Teachers Los Angeles President A. J. Duffy said he believes strongly that LAUSD should close the school for a few days to guard against the potential spread of the disease.

It is foolhardy of the Los Angeles Unified School District to disregard the health and safety of students, teachers, school staff and the community, Duffy said.

Duffy said Cortines should call State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack OConnell to request the California Department of Education to waive the loss of average daily attendance funds the district would lose if Fairfax were closed.

School district officials will continue to monitor for signs of illness among Fairfax students and staff. Cleaning of common areas and classrooms have been increased. Letters were sent and automated telephone calls were made to parents and staff members, Pollard-Terry said.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our main concern right now, Uyeda said. We are following the guidance of our county public health officials and will continue to monitor the situation. We are taking the necessary steps to allow healthy students to stay in school and focus on education and learning.

There are 11 confirmed cases and 12 probable cases in Los Angeles County of what officials are now calling new flu A H1N1.

None of those diagnosed with the newfangled virus in Los Angeles County has been hospitalized, according to local public health officers, who have reported that the disease is similar in strength to the regular seasonal flu.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the countys director of Public Health, appeared before the Los Angeles City Council this morning to provide an update on the disease, emphasizing that while the countys cases of swine flu have been moderate to mild, normal seasonal flu is responsible for as many as 1,000 deaths a year in Los Angeles County.

This does not appear more severe than the regular flu that weve seen. In fact, its milder than some of the flus that weve had in the past, Fielding said of the swine flu. At this point, people need to calm down a bit.

Montclair College Preparatory School in Van Nuys was closed on Monday after a student at the private school developed a possible case of the disease. The school will reopen on Thursday, Head of School Mike McDonnell said.

In Long Beach, where five cases were reported, public health officials said school closures would be considered if there was a rise in absenteeism, particularly one caused by students out sick with a influenza-like illness.

It is extremely important for anyone exhibiting [influenza-like illness], especially fever, that they stay home from school for at least seven days to ensure they will not transmit the illness to others, according to a statement posted online by Long Beach Health Officer Dr. Helene Calvet.

Practicing good hygiene is paramount to avoiding the flu, Fielding said. In addition to covering ones mouth when sneezing, residents should spend as much time washing their hands at it takes to sing the alphabet song, he said.

Thats much better than getting the whole environment contaminated, Fielding said.

Statewide, 99 cases of the disease have been confirmed across 16 counties, with a further 119 cases listed as probable, according to the California Department of Public Health.

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