Colorado swine flu cases rise to 4; school closed
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” The number of confirmed swine flu cases in Colorado has doubled to four, including one case in a middle-schooler whose school will close for a week as a precaution.
The two new confirmed cases were in a middle-school-age boy and a man in his 20s, both from Jefferson County, Colorado Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge said Sunday.
Both had traveled to Mexico or areas in the U.S. where the flu has been found, Calonge said. Neither was hospitalized.
The boy had gone on a school trip the week of April 20 with close to 45 students, and his sibling has a suspected case of swine flu, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Jefferson County health department.
Health and school officials declined to release more details, saying they wanted to protect the victims’ privacy.
Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said that after talking with health officials, she agreed to close the boy’s school, Excel Academy in Arvada, for a week to help prevent the illness from spreading. The school was closed last week for spring break, and the infected student has not been to school since becoming ill.
“When it comes to children’s health, it’s better to overreact than underreact,” she said.
Teachers at the school attended by 450 students from kindergarten through eighth grade will do as much classwork as possible online, Stevenson said. Calonge urged the students to stay home.
The school’s Web site said sixth-graders traveled to Dana Point, Calif., the week of April 20, and seventh- and eighth-graders went to New York City that week.
Calonge, Johnson and Stevenson all urged anyone showing signs of flu like cough, headache and fever to stay home, so that other schools won’t have to close.
Earlier, the Aspen school district asked roughly three dozen students returning from Mexico and a school-sponsored trip to San Diego to stay home from school for a week as a precaution against spreading the swine flu. Both areas have high incidences of the illness.
The World Health Organization says at least 787 people have been sickened worldwide.
The tally Sunday in the United States was 245 confirmed cases in 35 states.
Though U.S. cases of swine flu have been relatively mild, the spread of the virus, particularly in young victims, its unpredictability, and the lack of a specific vaccine or immunity to the illness has health officials concerned, Johnson and Calonge said.
Last week, the Colorado health department reported two confirmed swine flu cases. Both people got sick April 26 but have since recovered.
State authorities are waiting for the results from more tests.