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H1N1 case reported at Alton Central

September 30, 2009
ALTON — Officials at the Alton Central School reported on Sept. 29 that a student recently sent home with flu-like symptoms has tested positive for the H1N1 virus (commonly known as the swine flu).

Although no other cases have been reported, administrators and custodial staff are taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

In a letter sent to local parents, Principal Bonnie Jean Kuras explained that school nurse Maryanne Dulski is handling the situation in accordance with recommendations from the state Department of Health and Human Services, and is keeping the staff informed of any new developments.

In the meantime, Kuras wrote, custodians have been instructed to continue thoroughly cleaning surfaces that students regularly touch, such as door knobs, stair railings, and desk tops.

Students and staff, she added, have also been reminded that the best defense against the virus is to wash their hands frequently and avoid coughing or sneezing into their hands.

First identified in Mexico this past spring, the new H1N1 virus quickly spread throughout North America and Europe, leading to fears of a possible pandemic until the number of reported cases began to taper off over the summer.

In contrast to the seasonal flu, which tends to be worse among the elderly, the highest rates of H1N1 infection have been reported among children and young adults between the ages of five and 24.

The effects of the virus have generally been mild among healthy individuals, with most hospitalizations and deaths occurring among high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and those suffering from respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, whose immune systems are already weak.

Symptoms indicating an H1N1 infection include a high fever accompanied by a sore throat or cough, headaches, muscle and joint aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

Children exhibiting any of the above symptoms, particularly a high fever and sore throat or cough, should be kept at home until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medications.

"Knowing the signs and symptoms, along with keeping sick children at home," will go a long way in helping us prevent others from contracting the flu," Kuras wrote, encouraging parents to contact the school at 875-7500 with any questions or concerns.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord Osman
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