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High school reports probable case of swine flu; Brunswick cluster under scrutiny

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High school reports probable case of swine flu; Brunswick cluster under scrutiny

BRUNSWICK — The School Department confirmed Tuesday that a Brunswick High School student has a probable case of the H1N1 influenza, or swine flu.

On Wednesday morning, the state Center for Disease Control said there may be at least four new cases of the virus among Brunswick-area residents.

The state Department of Health and Human Services identified the high school case. The final determination will be made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Schools Greg Bartlett, the district was made aware of the probable case on Monday night.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski and BHS Principal Bruce Cook notified parents Tuesday in a letter. The district also notified School Administrative District 75, St. John's Catholic School and Durham. Durham sends tuition high school students to Brunswick, while St. John's students use the same buses as BHS students.

The letter stated that the sick student will remain at home, while all other students will continue attending school. Parents were urged to focus on early symptoms, such as a fever over 100 degrees, and to keep sick students at home.

In April the district sent a letter to parents informing them of protocols in the event of a confirmed case. The steps included the shutdown of the entire district. But those protocols, developed by the DHHS and the CDC, have changed. Districts are now advised to remain open and focus on prevention, early detection and quarantine.

Bartlett said that the district has been diligent in educating students and parents since the swine flu outbreak in April. He said the schools have been sanitizing desks and bus drivers have been spraying seats daily to fight against possible spread of the virus. In addition, he said, school nurses have been dispatched to classrooms to discuss prevention methods, such as sneezing into your elbow, frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with sick people.

Bartlett said that parents have been very understanding about the recent probable case. He said the district received one phone call about the report since the case was identified.

Bartlett also said that there were no plans to delay Friday's graduation ceremonies or to suspend classes. The district's last day of classes before summer break is June 22.

"Hopefully we can get to the end of the school year without any more cases," Bartlett said.

According to the Maine Emergency Management Agency, seven Maine residents have been identified with H1N1 in the past 48 hours. Five have been reported in Cumberland County and two in York County. Cumberland County cases include three probable diagnoses among youth, including the BHS student, and two confirmed adult cases. One of the new cases, a York County adult, required hospitalization.

A subsequent release Wednesday morning stated that four recent cases are residents of the Brunswick area, indicating a possible clustering. The cases include three children or youths. 

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net