Two Vail-area students may have had swine flu, officials say |

Two Vail-area students may have had swine flu, officials say

Chris Outcalt and Matt Zalaznick
Vail correspondents
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. ” Two more cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the Vail area, and two local students likely have the illness, officials say.

The local man and woman with the confirmed cases are both in their 20s, weren’t hospitalized and have already recovered. They are the second and third cases of the H1N1 flu virus in Eagle County. None of the three cases appear to be related, officials said.

The woman in her 20s is an employee of the Minturn Middle School. School officials also suspect two students, one at Red Sandstone Elementary and one at Meadow Mountain Elementary, also have the virus. Both students have recovered and weren’t in school while they were sick.

Officials have no plans to close any schools, spokesman Matt Earle said.

“Public health [officials] said there’s very little chance of it being spread because the employee took precautions and decided to stay home,” he said.

The district is taking the extra precaution of cleaning the school, and the woman won’t return to work until she’s symptom-free, Earle said.

The county confirmed its first case of the illness on Monday. The male in his late teens also contracted a mild form of swine flu.

The illness continues to act like seasonal flu and isn’t cause for alarm, county epidemiologist Becky Larson said.

“Once our first instance of H1N1 appeared in the county, it was only a matter of time before we saw additional cases,” she said. “It does not change our response to illness or our message to the community, which is to wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are sick and keep a reasonable distance from those who are ill.”

It’s possible swine flu could slow down the same way seasonal flu typically does, Larson said.

The school district has sent letters to parents with tips on how to keep an eye out for flu symptoms and reminding them to keep their kids home if they have any flu-like symptoms.

The letter said any kids who show symptoms while at school will be asked to put on a mask and sent home. Students who aren’t ill will be excused for absences if their parents want to keep them, though the school district doesn’t think keeping kids home is necessary, the letter says.

County officials are still in daily communication with state health officials in order to plan for an outbreak.