Allegheny County Reports More H1N1 Cases Among Students

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The Allegheny County Health Department and the North Allegheny School District today reported the number of probable cases of H1N1 influenza at Carson Middle School has increased from two to five and three probable cases have been diagnosed at Hosack Elementary School.

These probable cases, like a confirmed case reported late last week involving a student at Carson, are relatively mild illnesses that do not require hospitalization. The students are recovering at home without complications and will stay there until they are no longer infectious.

“Absentee rates at Carson and Hosack are somewhat elevated but not nearly high enough to warrant cancellation of classes,” said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.

“In fact, the higher absentee rate is a good sign because it’s an indication that parents may be heeding our advice to keep their children out of school if they have a fever and other flu-like symptoms. Keeping them at home is the right thing to do and prevents the virus from spreading.”

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At this time, the Health Department continues not to recommend closing any schools in the North Allegheny School District or in any other parts of the County for one or more cases of H1N1 influenza. Instead, the focus remains on keeping sick students, faculty and staff home while they are ill in order to reduce transmission of the virus.

Health officials are urging students, faculty and staff at Carson, Hosack and any other school in the County who have a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sore throat, cough, congestion, runny nose, headache or fatigue to stay out of school and at home for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms or, if their illness lasts more than seven days, until they are free of symptoms for at least 24 hours.

Not all who have a flu-like illness may need to be seen or tested by a health care provider. However, it is especially important for certain high-risk groups such as the elderly and the chronically ill to seek prompt medical attention if they have flu symptoms.

Special circumstances that might prompt a recommendation to close include influenza in a school with high-risk children, extremely high absenteeism or changes in the virulence of H1N1 which lead to more severe illness.

Four confirmed cases of H1N1 have been reported in the County, including the Carson Middle School student and three adults from other areas of the County, all of whom have fully recovered.

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