Western Slope remains swine flu free | PostIndependent.com

Western Slope remains swine flu free

John Colson
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Courtesy of Mesa County Health Department

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Colorado’s Western Slope remained apparently free of swine flu as of Friday afternoon, according to health authorities, as officials wait for test results of samples sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One area school district, however, has taken steps to minimize the chance of contagion from students returning from school trips.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the Aspen School District announced that students returning from school-sponsored trips to San Diego, Calif. and from Mexico, would be asked to stay home until May 11.

“This will take those children beyond the 7-day incubation period and assist us with insuring the safety of other children on our campus,” stated the release, adding that the situation will be re-evaluated next week to see if students can return to school earlier.

The outbreak of H1N1 (swine) flu originated in Mexico, and there have been numerous confirmed flu cases in San Diego, including one visiting Colorado woman whose illness was not detected until after she had returned home.

Children returning from a school trip to New Mexico, which has yet to report any confirmed cases of the disease, will be permitted back in the Aspen schools next week.

In the downvalley district, Superintendent Judy Haptonstall reiterated that custodians are taking extra care in cleaning schools and buses, and “Handi-Wipes” are being made available to students and staff, but there are no blanket orders for students returning from trips to stay home.

She said the administration will check on kids returning from such places as Mexico, specifically to learn where in Mexico they visited and, perhaps, to ask them to stay at home. They plan to deal with the matter on a case-by-case, school-by-school basis.

In the meantime, according to Jim Rada of the Garfield County Public Health Agency, the state has received its requested shipment of anti-viral drugs and is beginning to distribute them.

Rada said Garfield County will not get its shipment until early next week, but he added that local hospitals have indicated they have sufficient supplies of anti-viral drugs on hand to deal with anticipated needs.

In line with a growing conviction among health officials that the swine flu virus may not be as deadly as was feared initially, when the first reports came out of Mexico, Rada urged anyone experiencing symptoms of a mild flu-like infection to simply stay at home and treat it as one would a typical influenza infection.

“There’s no reason for people to get tested, if they have mild symptoms,” Rada said, explaining that people should seek help from a doctor or a hospital only if the symptoms worsen.

As of Friday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. was nearing 150 in 20 states, though testing labs were giving indications that those numbers would rise.

In Mexico, according to news reports, officials were saying that the rate of new cases and death from the disease were both leveling off, with confirmation of 343 swine flu cases and 15 deaths from the virus.

One unnamed U.S. health official was quoted as saying that this virus lacks specific genes of the type that made the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed up to 50 million people worldwide, so deadly.

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