Schools hit with many possible swine flu cases

Posted by Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Just 8 days into the new school year and already possible cases of the H1N1 flu are popping up in local schools.

More youngsters than normal for this time of the year are staying home or being sent home with flu-like symptoms.

But, school administrators are stressing they are not alarmed and you shouldn't be either.

Of the ten thousand students in Autauga County schools, Superintendent Greg Faulkner said one returned recently with an unexpected note for the teacher. "One of their children came back and said 'Please excuse. Was out for swine flu.' So, that was an actual doctor's excuse."

And, in Elmore County, the situation may be worse according to administrator Billy Womble. "We have had and this is updated since yesterday between 50 and 55 confirmed cases of the flu. Now, in saying that they're testing Type A flu at all the doctors' offices and it comes back positive you probably have H1N1."

Doctors are now testing for the flu in their offices whereas before test results were sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. But, the Public Health Department's Dr. Charles Woernle says now doctors can come closer to a diagnosis. "They are not specific for H1N1, but since we have so much H1N1 out there that if the rapid test is positive then you likely got the H1N1 disease."

And, even though the signs and symptoms may be there for H1N1 flu, school administrators say it's no time to panic.

"We also have children out with the chicken pox right now, with strep throat, with a virus. So, we have a lot of kids who are in and out of school right now," says Womble.

And Faulkner adds "I guess we're not alarmed right now because we see the children going home and being tested for whatever symptom it might be and coming back to school healthy and fine."

The  Public Health Department says what's different this year is we're having so much flu in August. That's very atypical and supports the notion that we do have a new pandemic influenza. Doctors recommend if your child does come down with a fever to keep him home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone and that's without medication.

Baptist Medical Centers tell us they have seen an increase in people coming in with flu-like symptoms.

Clinical trials for the H1N1 vaccine are underway now. The makers hope to have it available in October. Little comfort for folks suffering with the flu right now.

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