Swine flu identified in Williston (6/4/09)

June 4, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A student at Allen Brook School has become Vermont’s eighth confirmed case of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus, better known as swine flu. District Principal Walter Nardelli made the announcement Tuesday in an e-mail to parents in the school district.

According to Nardelli, the student has recovered and is back in school. He was not hospitalized, but instead spent a few days home sick last week.

“His was a very, very light case,” Nardelli said.

The child was in contact with fellow students and staff before he showed symptoms, Nardelli added.

Nardelli said custodial staff at Allen Brook and Williston Central schools would be cleaning the buildings vigorously as a precaution. He said schools would stay open unless there was a sudden rash of students with flu-like symptoms.

The strain of the H1N1 virus originated in Mexico earlier this year, where nearly 100 people died of the illness. The virus has spread to the United States, but has been less deadly. Most cases have been light, requiring no hospitalization, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a new virus, so it’s gotten a lot of attention,” said Patsy Kelso, the state epidemiologist for the Vermont Health Department.

Nardelli said the student contracted the virus after visiting friends in a neighboring state. The friends became ill with the virus soon after the student left. The student showed symptoms after returning home.

Kelso said swine flu symptoms are almost exactly the same as a normal strain of influenza — high fever, sore throat, chills, headaches and body ache. She recommended that parents of children with any signs of the flu contact their doctor.


Avoiding swine flu

Williston School District Principal Walter Nardelli provided a list of preventive measure parents can take to stop the spread of flu viruses:

•    Monitor children and yourself every day for flu-like symptoms.

•    If you or your child is sick, stay home from work or school until you are better. Keep sick people away from people who are not sick.

•    Tell your school nurse or teacher about your child’s symptoms so they can watch for other students with the same symptoms.

•    Wash your hands well and often. Make sure your children do the same. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

•    If you can’t wash with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer (gels, rubs or hand wipes, as long as they have at least 60 percent alcohol).

•    Remind children to keep hands away from their face and don’t touch mouth, nose or eyes.

•    Cover your cough. Teach your children to do the same. Cough into the inside of your elbow, or into a tissue — not your hands.

•    Throw away used tissues or hand sanitizer wipes. Teach your children to throw away tissues and then wash hands.

•    Don’t share water bottles, utensils, cups, etc. with others.

For more information on the swine flu virus, visit the Vermont Department of Health’s Web site at healthvermont.gov.