Written by Denise Nash Thursday, 14 May 2009 18:09
Dr. Carney from the Nassau County Department of Health announced earlier this week that a Mattlin Middle School student who had flu-like symptoms with onset early in May has been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, better known as Swine Flu. The child was absent from school for the seven-day period of contagiousness and is able to return to school.
The Department of Health wrote, “The child is currently asymptomatic, does not require exclusion and poses no apparent threat to the health and safety of the students and the staff of the school. The name of the child must remain confidential. At this time the Nassau County Department of Health does not recommend closure of any school in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District.”
On May 7, Superintendent of Schools Gerard W. Dempsey, Jr. posted a letter on the school’s website alerting parents, staff and community residents that the district was notified by parents that there were six middle school students with Influenza A as diagnosed by private physicians.
“The district shares your concern about the health and well-being of all of our students and all the adults who work in or interact with district personnel,” said Dempsey.
Dempsey said the school district was following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which advise against closing schools.
“School closure is not advised for a suspected or confirmed case of novel influenza A (H1N1) and in general, is not advised unless there is a magnitude of faculty or student absenteeism that interferes with the school’s ability to function,” the guidelines state.
In response to the growing number of confirmed swine flu cases, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi said, “We are urging all residents to be prepared, not scared.”
Parents should teach their children to wash their hands often; properly use hand sanitizers; keep their hands away from their faces and avoid touching their mouths, noses, or eyes; cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or to cough into the inside of their elbows and discard tissues in the trash immediately after one use.
The elderly population is also at great risk, according to the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (NYAHSA). “If you’re not feeling well, we’re asking you to visit your doctor, not your dad in a nursing home or your grandmother who gets home care visits,” Carl Young, New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging president, said. “Our nursing homes and senior services staffs are following strict infection-control programs, and the public’s compliance will be of enormous help.”
In an effort to help provide the public with resources and information, Senator Kemp Hannon has placed a link on his website, www.kemphannon.com, to reputable websites where residents can visit and get the latest news on the swine flu.
Residents can find updates from the New York State Health Department, answers to frequently asked questions, information for child care providers, Center for Disease Control, fact sheets and useful links to information for both the public and health care providers.
“Nothing spreads fear faster than a lack of knowledge and what to do when a problem presents itself,” Senator Hannon said. “From newspaper, television and the Internet folks have a hard time not hearing about this topic. Yet, we certainly don’t want to create a panic. We are more prepared than ever to address any public health issue that arises.”
The Nassau County Department of Health is suggesting that students and staff who are ill in any way should not come to school, which is always good practice. Flu-like symptoms include: fever (over 100 degrees F.), feverishness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, or stuffy nose. Additional symptoms may include muscle pain, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Please consult a physician if these symptoms develop.
For the latest information on the swine flu outbreak, residents should contact the Nassau County Red Cross chapter at 747-3500 or visit www.nassauredcross.org; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov/swineflu; or call the Nassau County Department of Health at (day) 227-9697 (after hours) 742-6154 or visit http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/.
Updates specifically regarding the cases in the Plainview Old Bethpage School District are available on the school’s website at www.pob.k12.ny.us.
Carisa Giardino contributed to this story.