By Diana L. Chapman
With today’s fears of a pandemic – and unsubstantiated rumors that an outbreak of swine flu happened at local San Pedro school Wednesday – both health and school officials cleared the entire Harbor Area of any known cases at a school.
But in the same breath, district officials called for parents to “error on the side of caution,” and reiterated that parents should NOT send their sick children to school. An 11-year-old somewhere within the school district is considered a “probable,” positive of the virus–but it's not yet a confirmed case of the swine flu -- along with a 52-year-old, both of whom recently traveled to
What touched off the flurry of fears was a release, issued yesterday by the Los Angeles County of Public Health,that also indicated two other cases are “possible,” one of a 69-year-old and the other of 60-year-old. It takes four days for testing to determine if any of these cases are positive.
Panic spread throughout San Pedro with parents pulling their children out of school and vowing not to send them back. But the cluster -- which was reported to be either at an an elementary or junior high -- did not appear to have the virus.
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is also investigating three possible flu clusters in three schools located in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Pedro. Laboratory results on these clusters are expected by the end of the week,” the release revealed.
However, officials were quickly able to squelch the rumors of any San Pedro schools being infected.
Jacob Haik, a deputy chief of staff for Los Angeles School Board Member Richard Vladovic, recommended yesterday that parents who find their children are ill to take every precaution possible -- starting with keeping them at home.
Since reports of cases have popped up at Long Beach State University (one student was reported as a possibly having the illness and stays in isolation at a room, but not a hospital) and a 17-year-old high school student in Indio also turned up to “probably” have this strain of flu. School officials are asking for parents to pay attention to warning signs, even if it’s just a bout of any other type of influenza.
Fevers, coughing, sneezing and vomiting all should be considered reasons to keep children at home – even if its not the swine flu.
The good news, Haik explained, “that it’s nowhere in the Harbor Area,” at this point – although current testing could change that – and all residents should be prepared that it’s possible and could hit Los Angeles County sooner than later.
On Monday, Haik kept his two eight-year-olds, a twin boy and girl, who had a fever from attending public school until they were better three days later. The prior week, his family kept their two-year-old daughter, from attending her pre-kindergarten school in San Pedro, when she too had a fever.
“It’s going to be an inconvenience for everybody and it’s a hardship,” he agreed. “But do your civic duty. If your kid is sick, keep them home. It’s likely at (some point) it could hit us.”
Both agencies refused to name the school involved in the San Pedro rumor mill and Haik added there will be an investigation into how the matter was handled. He would not give more details.
A key ingredient to prevention is repeatedly washing hands and covering your mouth when coughing.
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