Swine flu confirmed in Portland school

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PORTLAND — Two people at Longfellow Elementary School are the first in the city schools to be diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, known as the swine flu.

One individual with the illness remained home for seven days and is now symptom-free, the School Department said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. The other person remains at home during the contagious period.

The press release did not indicate whether the individuals were students or staff members. When contacted by phone, School Nurse Coordinator Amanda Rowe said the distinction “didn’t matter” and she declined to provide any further information.

There have been no widespread reports of flu-like symptoms – which include fever of more than 100 degrees, a cough, sore throat, muscle ache and sometimes upset stomach and/or diarrhea – in the schools. Officials urged a calm and reasoned approach, the press release said.  

Sick children and staff are being urged to stay at home, according to the School Department, which said nurses are monitoring cases of flu-like symptoms and are sending anyone home with a fever of a 100 degrees or more. 

Rowe encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated at the seasonal and H1N1 flu clinics that are expected to begin on Oct. 30 in the schools. Meanwhile, proper hand-washing and respiratory etiquette, like sneezing or coughing into one’s own shirt sleeve, will help minimize the risk of spreading or coming down with the virus. 

Randy Billings can be reached at 7891-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net