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Three students catch H1N1

School officials encourage parents to make sure their kids are washing their hands.

October 01, 2009|By Max Zimbert

BURBANK — Students at three Burbank Unified School District schools have been stricken with swine flu, but administrators said the virus has not reached levels forecasted by state health officials.

Students at John Muir Elementary and Luther Burbank Middle School were diagnosed with swine flu in late August. District officials said they have not had any additional confirmed cases.

“I’m sure we’ll have many more cases,” said Tom Steele, director of student services for Burbank Unified School District. “Currently we are just trying to encourage students and families to wash their hands.”

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The district, unlike Glendale, will not provide hand sanitizer in classrooms.

“But if Los Angeles County health [officials] said it was the best thing to do, we’d run out and buy it,” Steele said.

Glendale Unified recently purchased $12,000 worth of hand sanitizer, which would be available in classrooms. The district also purchased disinfectant wipes for computer labs.

The H1N1 influenza virus spreads rapidly, and state health officials have projected that one in four Californians will be infected, a message Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger emphasized at a Sept. 8 news conference at John Burroughs High School in Burbank.

“That means thousands of people are going to die,” the governor said. “And it means that 9 million people will be affected by this.”

Seven cases have been reported at Rosemont Middle School, two at Crescenta Valley High and one at Monte Vista Elementary, Deputy. Supt. Richard Sheehan said.

“It’s definitely in our community, which is no surprise,” he said. “We’re asking people to be vigilant about taking care of their kids, making sure they are well rested, eating well, washing their hands for 20 seconds and covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze.”

School district officials are not tracking individual cases, but have been instructed by state and county health departments to monitor outbreaks. Steele described a potential outbreak as several students falling ill in one classroom.

Thirteen first-graders were absent in a class of 20 at La Cañada Elementary school Sept. 9.

Two students were diagnosed with swine flu, but five were tested, officials said.

Burbank Unified administrators said a decision to close a school would come from local health authorities.

Disinfectants have been stored at the district’s warehouse, enough to clean two campuses, Steele said.

Area hospitals have stepped up flu testing for all patients, and school officials have sent letters home and reminded parents at back- to-school nights to emphasize disease prevention.

Health officials recommend children who suffer from chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes or lung disease get the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available in late October.

Potential H1N1 symptoms include fever, cough and aches.


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