Lowell Elementary Closes Due To Influenza

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The Maricopa County Department of Public Health in cooperation with Phoenix Elementary School District has closed Lowell Elementary School until May 26, 2009 due to a high rate of influenza like illness.

“Through enhanced surveillance and a stellar school nurse, we learned that the school was experiencing a much higher than normal rate of absenteeism due to illness that looks like flu,” said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa Department of Public Health.

“I said that we would watch schools closely for signs of a local outbreak and would act as necessary on a case by case basis. After talking with school officials, we all agreed that as a precaution and to limit the further spread of illness, we would close the school until after the Memorial Day holiday.”

With the novel H1N1 influenza (Swine Flu) and seasonal flu behaving much the same way, it is not recommended to test students already home with mild illness; therefore, it is likely that the particular strain of flu will remain unknown.

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“As I’ve said over the last few weeks, as long as the novel H1N1 influenza continues to look like seasonal flu, there is no need to continue testing what we already know; flu is here in our community.”

“Our healthcare community is seeing cases of both types of influenza; seasonal and H1N1. This is why the community and public health must continue to be vigilant; sometimes, that means having to close a school as a precaution.”

Tips to lessen the spread of flu in your home include:

· Keep the sick person away from other people as much as possible

· Remind the sick person to cover their coughs, and clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after coughing and/or sneezing

· Have everyone in the household clean their hands often, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub

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