H1N1 cases in La Cañada


By Mary O’Keefe

La Cañada Unified School District has confirmed two cases of the H1N1 virus at La Cañada Elementary School.

On Sept. 11, 13 out of 20 students in one first grade classroom had reported out of school due to flu-like symptoms. Most of those students were determined to have the Type A influenza, seasonal flu. The school notified the County of Los Angeles Public Health department who requested five of those 13 students be tested for the H1N1 virus. Two of them came back as positive, said Wendy Sinnette, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, La Cañada Unified School District.

“That is a unique situation. We have not seen those types of [group] absences in our [Glendale] classrooms,” said Dr. Robert Sheehan, assistant superintendent for Glendale Unified School District.

Sheehan added teachers have been educated on the symptoms and the best procedures to prevent the spread of influenza.

“We are posting information for parents about H1N1 on the District website on Monday and will be sending out letters [about the virus] in the Thursday folders,” he said.

The La Cañada district responded quickly once they had confirmed the two cases.

“We found out about this late Friday and since then have taken every precaution to sanitize every classroom,” she said.

The district implemented their Connect Ed communication technology to update parents on the situation.

“The [outbreak] was contained within one classroom,” Sinnette added.

The school continued to screen all students who reported out sick on Monday but all were fever free, they just felt unwell.

The health department credited the La Cañada district with containing the outbreak through their precautions prior to the students reporting sick and the follow up actions of the staff, Sinnette said.

Precautions are key in the battle within the Glendale district as well.

“All indications show that it will be a heavy flu season,” Sheehan said.

The Glendale district has ordered hand sanitizers for every classroom and anti-bacterial wipes for keyboards in the computer labs, Sheehan said.

For more information on the H1N1 virus visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov