Two Calvert Students Had Swine Flu But Recovered

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 24, 2009

Two students at Patuxent High School in Calvert County had swine flu but have recovered, school officials told parents in a letter Thursday.

County health officials decided not to close the school in Lusby, but they were overseeing a cleaning effort and said they would continue to monitor students. The two students who had the flu were not identified by school or county health officials and were thought to be seniors, whose last day of school was May 15. The final day for remaining students is June 12.

Calvert Superintendent Jack Smith said he did not know how the students, who are friends, contracted the virus, also known as H1N1 influenza. The outbreak this spring prompted hundreds of schools to close nationwide.

As of Thursday, 5,764 cases had been reported in 47 states, resulting in nine deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No other school system in Southern Maryland has reported cases of swine flu.

In his letter, Smith told parents that the CDC said it is no longer necessary to close schools because of the virus. Smith encouraged parents to keep their children home if they are sick and to report any absence so school officials can monitor trends.

When more than 10 percent of a school's students are absent, school and health officials are notified. Smith said that none of the county's schools has had that level of health-related absences in recent months.

"It is very important, while monitoring conditions such as these, for the school to have accurate information about absences," Smith wrote.

He also said that parents should "remain alert to possible signs of the flu in their children," including a fever higher than 100 degrees, cough, sore throat, runny nose or nasal stuffiness, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Occasionally, vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms.

Students and staff members should also be diligent about washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer, using a tissue when coughing or sneezing, discarding used tissues and staying away from others if sick.

"Our nurses and administrators have been on heightened alert since this flu broke out, and we'll continue that," Smith said Thursday. Swine flu "is yesterday's news, but we still take it very, very seriously."

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