Two Indianapolis schools close due to flu concern

Two Indianapolis schools close due to flu concern
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Indianapolis - State and county health officials say two Indianapolis schools will close for a week due to confirmed cases of the swine flu in students. That brings Indiana's confirmed cases of the H1N1 (swine) flu virus to three.

"As a precaution I'm announcing the closing of two schools where we have confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus," said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Health Department.

The schools are closing on a health department order. See Washington Township Schools' site for the latest updates.

IPS School 60 and Spring Mill Elementary School will be closed starting May 4th. The schools will reopen May 11th. All activities are postponed until May 11th. School 60 has around 360 students and Spring Mill has over 700. (See the schools' press release.)

"Students in both schools are at high risk for developing the flu," said Dr. Caine.

At Spring Mill, all teachers were called from their classrooms to a meeting which lasted about ten minutes and the teachers were told about the situation. The teachers came back and reported to the students that there would be no school next week.

Dr. Caine asked parents and guardians to keep students at home and to prevent them from congregating with other children. She also asked them to monitor the health of their children and said a fever over 100 degrees, coughing and sore throat are key indicators of the H1N1.

Parents will be required to fill out a form stating that their child is healthy before the child is allowed to return to school.

"We understand this is a major step but it is being done as a precautionary move in the best interests of the health of the children and our community," said Dr. Caine.

The two children are showing mild symptoms and are doing well, said Caine. She said they are under a voluntary quarantine in their own homes until they are better.

Neither case was connected to any travel to Mexico or other states where the disease has been reported. Both children are elementary-school age.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe said the precautions are being taken because even though the symptoms of the new flu strain are relatively mild in the US cases, it's a new strain of flu and health officials want to minimize the number of people exposed to it.

Monroe said that most Indiana tests are coming back negative for swine flu. She said 69 percent of tests were negative, while 25 percent were positive for regular strains of flu.

Monroe said six percent of samples are being sent to the CDC for further testing.

She added that for the most part, the new strain of flu is relatively mild. Monroe said she expects to see more cases.

Spring Mill parents

Channel 13 has confirmed that one corporation has told parents of Spring Mill Elementary School children to stay home.

The parents have been asked to check in with the employer daily with an update on their child or children's health and whether they are showing signs of the flu or not. This is a precautionary measure just in case any students have been exposed. The parents have been asked to stay home for one week, the same time period as the school closure.

Swine flu info:

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, stay home. Don't go to work or school, and keep children home from school if they're sick. Stay away from public places for seven days from the onset of symptoms. If symptoms are severe, contact your health care provider.

Use common sense precautions to avoid unnecessary exposure - frequent, thorough hand-washing, covering your mouth with your arm if you cough or sneeze, avoid shaking hands, and do not touch your nose, eyes or mouth unless your hands are clean.

State officials announce the toll-free hotline for the public who have questions on the North American Human Influenza A (H1N1) will remain open this weekend (5/2-5/3) from 8:00 am - 4:45 pm (EDT) on both Saturday and Sunday. The number is 1-877-826-0011. Please note, this hotline is NOT intended for people to use to ask medical advice on symptoms. Please call your health care provider if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

More resources:

Indiana swine flu page

Key facts on human swine flu

General info

Updated list of American cases