By Mary O’KEEFE
Three students at Rosemont Middle School and one student at Crescenta Valley High School have been confirmed with the type A influenza, H1N1 virus.
Dr. Richard Sheehan, Glendale district assistant superintendent, has become somewhat of an expert on the subject of the subject of the H1N1 flu. He said he had been told by public health officials that testing for the H1N1 flu strain is rare.
“Right now, what I have been told is they are testing for Type A [influenza]. The H1N1 test is much more involved and [the results] take a long time,” he said.
Since traditional flu season begins a few months from now, anyone with flu-like symptoms at this point probably has the H1N1 influenza, said Ken August, spokesman for the California Department of Public Health.
“I talked to the [student’s] mother and found out that the symptoms were coughing and a fever,” said CVHS Principal Linda Evans.
Evans went a step further and contacted the student’s pediatrician, with her parents’ permission.
“The pediatrician’s office confirmed that she had tested for Type A influenza,” Evans said.
Sheehan has taken the lead at the district in preparing for a predicted outbreak. All schools now have hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes for the keyboards in the schools’ computer labs.
“We have sent out notices, we will use our ConnectEd phone system and have sent out e-mail notices to parents,” said Evans.
Rosemont Principal Michele Doll said the school’s PTA is going to be updating its website with prevention information concerning H1N1 and advised parents to visit the district website.
The H1N1 vaccine is scheduled to be available in October. August said that children to young adults up to 24 years old should get the vaccine. Sheehan advises that all parents check with their personal doctor concerning the vaccination.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the H1N1 is a new influenza virus that was first detected in people in April 2009. It was first referred to as the “swine flu” because early laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new influenza strain were similar to flu viruses that normally occur in pigs or swine in North America. Further study has since shown it to be very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. This strain has two genes form flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird and human genes.
The H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get infected from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
H1N1 is thought to be spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it then touching their mouth or nose.
People infected with seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu may be contagious from one day before becoming sick to five to seven days after. This time frame may be extended in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems.
Most people who have been infected with the H1N1 flu recover without requiring medical treatment.
For more information on the H1N1 influenza virus visit the Glendale Unified School District’s website at www.gusd.net or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.