San Jose, Pittsburg schools close as result of swine flu, first U.S. death reported

So far, no reports of anyone from Alameda County area with respiratory illness

Schools in San Jose and Pittsburg have been closed as a result of the swine flu, but so far, there are no reports of anyone from Alameda County with the illness.

A student from Branham High School in San Jose has tested positive for the respiratory illness, forcing the closure of the school until May 6, according to the Campbell Union High School District.

The student was last in school Thursday, but to limit exposure the Santa Clara County Department of Health and the school district decided to

close the high school for a week, according to the school district's website.

Seven days is the regular incubation period for the virus, according to the school district.

Highlands Elementary School in Pittsburg was closed Wednesday in response to three students who have been diagnosed with probable cases of the swine flu, Contra Costa Health Services spokeswoman Kate Fowlie said.

The school will remain closed until May 6, a Pittsburg Unified School District employee said. As of 8 a.m., no other schools in the district

were closed. Two probable cases of swine flu have also been reported in Marin County.

Thirteen students in the same class at Highlands Elementary School were sent home with flu-like symptoms Tuesday, according to Superintendent

Barbara Wilson. She said the school quickly tripled its custodial staff to clean the classroom and areas students would go as a group.

Sherri Willis, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department, said she was told Wednesday morning that test results from 45 specimen taken will not be available for 24 to 48 hours.

Kevin Johnson, senior director of pupil services for the Pleasanton Unified School District, said at Tuesday night's board meeting that the district is working closely with county health and area doctors.

"We're taking the opportunity to review our policy on wellness," he said. "If students have the flu, students should be free of fever for 24 hours without help of medication to come back to school."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in response to the virus Tuesday morning. A state of emergency allows the California Emergency Management Agency to start working with the state Department of Public Health to prevent the disease from spreading, governor's spokesman Jeff Macedo said.

California Department of Public Health Chief Deputy Director Dr. Bonnie Sorensen said Tuesday that swine flu and regular flu produce practically the same symptoms -- a fever of at least 100 degrees and a cough or sore throat -- there is no red flag that a person has the virus.

Residents are urged to see a doctor if such symptoms are noticed. Health officials have said the illness appears to be treatable.

Bay Area health officials Tuesday began reporting the region's first probable cases of swine flu. California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Mark Horton said a probable case means lab officials identified the virus as influenza A, the same category of influenza as the swine flu. However, health officials still have not determined whether the sub type of the influenza A is the swine flu.

The swine flu, as of 8 a.m. today, has also sickened 51 people in New York City, 16 in Texas, two in Kansas, two in Massachusetts, two in

Michigan, one in Nevada, one in Arizona, one in Indiana and one in Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first United States swine flu death was reported Wednesday morning--a toddler in Texas died of the illness after traveling to the state from Mexico City to visit relatives, according to the Associated Press.

The boy, nearly 2 years old, had "underlying health issues" when he came to Brownsville, a Texas border town, on April 4 and developed flu symptoms four days later, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. He was taken to a Brownsville hospital April 13 and transferred to the following day to a hospital in Houston, where he died Monday night. More than 100 deaths in Mexico are suspected of being related to

the virus.

The swine flu outbreak was first reported in the U.S. in late March in Southern California and Texas, according to health officials. It is

spread mainly person-to-person through coughing and sneezing.

Though not airborne, the virus can spread through germs. Residents are advised to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or

sneezing, wash hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths.

--Bay City News; Janet Pelletier contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Though not airborne, the virus can spread through germs."

I think what is meant is that the virus can spread through physical contact with infected fluids.

Like this comment
Posted by AVHS Dad
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Apr 29, 2009 at 12:22 pm

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

If that's so, why all the masks??? If it's not airborne, the masks are useless! Think, people!!!

Washing your hands whenever possible is the best idea I've heard. Something we should be doing anyway.

Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm

AVHS Dad, when you breath you exhale tiny water droplets. Other people nearby inhale these fluids. Bacteria (germs) and viruses (which are not considered "germs") infect these fluids. The droplets are the carriers.

Like this comment
Posted by David Walden
a resident of Verona
on Apr 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Put into perspective, this is probably going to be minor news by December. We lose 47,000 folks each year to motor vehicle related deaths and 36,000 on average to the normal flu. When you count the folks who will have died of boredom from reading those two, two headline section daily newspapers by the end of the year, this is a non-story. I think I will go use Purell on my hands now though.

Like this comment
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm

My kid's schools do a good job using the web and email for homework instruction. If our schools close, they may need to think about using Youtube for lectures and some lesson plans.

Like this comment
Posted by Freakingout
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm

First I had to avoid Asians because of SARS and Avian Flu, and now I have to avoid Mexicans and Mexican produce. The media has me FREAKING OUT. I went through the pandemics of 1957 and 1968 and didn't worry because I didn't even know about them (OK, I was in Viet Nam in '68 so that might not really count). But the point is that with all this hype, is there something that we're not being told ?

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

To address several issues mentioned in previous posts
(1) The economy is bad and many companies are laying people off left and right. The media outlets are no exception. Reporters are going to do what they can to keep their jobs. If that means, for some of them, that they hype up a story to sell copy, then that can explain some of this.
(2) Although simple surgical masks are not going to protect people fully, it will prevent infected people from spewing droplets on others. Heathly people who wear the masks will also be less likely to have droplets of nasal fluids sprayed on them. Another thing that masks do is help prevent people from touching their nose and mouth. For most people it is hard to not touch your face, so the mask can help people avoid that. Not that we have to be paranoid and all run around with masks on, but if you have to be around people who may be sick, then it's a good idea to have one.

Like this comment
Posted by Jason
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Here are some facts on how to stay healthy.
Web Link

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