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Swine flu strikes SCV

Posted: May 26, 2009 9:36 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2009 3:49 p.m.
 
A student at Sierra Vista Junior High School has a confirmed case of H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, William S. Hart Union High School District officials said Tuesday.

This would appear to be the first confirmed case of the illness in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The district does not plan to close the school, nor do district officials believe there are other cases of swine flu at the junior high school at this time, said Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett.

Current state and federal guidelines do not call for closing a school because of a single case of identified H1N1 influenza.

District officials initially heard about the infected student through another student, Willett said. District officials contacted the parents and received confirmation that the student has swine flu, Willett said.

"I don't know if that student was in school when they were sick," Willett said.

Following the confirmation of the case, the district issued a message to all Sierra Vista parents via the ConnectEd phone notification system advising parents that students who were absent due to illness on Tuesday can expect a call from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

"Let me stress that there is no cause for alarm," Superintendent Jaime Castellanos told parents. "The so-called swine flu has been relatively mild in the United States and usually results in no more serious illness than ordinary flu."

Willett echoed Castellanos' message to parents.

"It's really just like any influenza," Willett said. "At this point, it's no more dangerous than regular flu unless someone has underlying conditions."

Absent students experiencing flu-like symptoms will receive specific recommendations from Public Health, he said.

Still, the district hasn't seen a change in the number of absences, Willett said.

The district and Public Health will continue to monitor the situation and take any steps necessary to protect the health of all students.

The Hart district is working with Public Health to contact every student who was absent Tuesday, or who might have come in contact with the student diagnosed with swine flu, Willett said.

"If there appears to be a cluster or a lot of cases, they will get back to us," Willett said.

In the meantime, Castellanos reminded families of standard precautions to prevent the spread of influenza and other communicable diseases. Those include keeping sick children at home, washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand-wash solutions frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and disposing of used tissues appropriately.

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