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FLU NEWS: San Francisco likening qualities of swine flu to the seasonal disease

Health officer calls H1N1 flue to simply a mild virus

A San Francisco deputy county health officer said Friday people should act no differently than before they knew about the H1N1 virus, and that the city is likening its qualities to the seasonal flu.

Health Officer Dr. Susan Fernyak said at a news conference at the city's Department of Public Health, one of several news conferences held throughout the Bay Area Friday, she can understand why the words "pandemic flu" can cause panic, but in this case it is simply a mild virus.

The community overall seems to have responded accordingly, with the exception of people jumping the gun with doctor visits, said Rob Dudgeon who directs the department of emergency services.

Dudgeon said 311, the city's 24-hour public service phone line that answers general government information, only received about 60 calls Friday after the city announced Thursday a boy had a confirmed case.

He said New York City's 311 phone line received more than 7,000 flu-related calls Friday.

In general, there's not a lot of uproar in the city, which should be the case, he said.

However, Fernyak said residents should understand that the overflow in the doctor's rooms has become problematic. She said many people ask to get tested but doctors will only test patients who have severe, prolonged, flu-like symptoms.

Health officials throughout the Bay Area Friday announced new probable and confirmed cases as well as school closures due to the virus.

Two Contra Costa County schools, five schools in Santa Clara County and one in Marin County have been closed or are facing closures due to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that schools have any students with probable cases of the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, remain closed for 14 days.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said in a teleconference Friday he is working to make a more organized reporting system, such as a phone number or Web site, that lists the status of schools for easier access to updates.

Confirmed or probable cases have been reported in most Bay Area counties and the CDC said, as of Friday morning, there have been 141 cases confirmed in the U.S., including one fatality.

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