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Rockville High School Closed Friday by Swine Flu Worries

UPDATED: 12:20 a.m. ET

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer

Montgomery County school officials announced last night that Rockville High School will be closed today, after authorities reported a probable case of swine flu involving a student.

County school officials announced their decision during a late night phone call with reporters, and plan to alert parents through phone calls this morning.

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Ulder Tillman said this probable swine flu case “now affects Rockville High.” A decision was made to close the school Thursday on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and the Maryland state health department we are taking immediate steps to close the school.

Few details were released about the student, who is suffering from similar symptoms of the virus and is the ninth probable case in the state, officials said. The student was last in school on Monday, officials said.

School officials were alerted to the case at about 6:30 Thursday night. They said after further information is gathered they expect to release more details and determine how long the school will remain closed.

“We do concur with the decision, it was undertaken after great consideration,” said Frances Phillips, Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health services.

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  May 1, 2009; 12:20 AM ET
Categories:  New Cases , Schools  
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Comments

Question for the blog authors:

I am in the administration of a community center in Maryland, and I may have to decide if we will close due to the risk of our staff and patrons contracting the flu.

Where can I go to get the most complete and up-to-the-minute information on Swine Flu cases in the DC area, in order to make a better decision to open or close?

Will this blog become a clearinghouse for swine flu information to help us assess this risk?

What is the lag time between transmission of the swine flu and new cases being publicized?

Although the current situation certainly does not warrant a closure, I am watching the situation carefully so I can act in the event the virus begins to spread quickly.

Posted by: stuckman | May 1, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

So next (human) flu season, will the schools close as well, or only admit vaccinated students? One can get pneumonia from highly contagious human influenza too, you know...

Posted by: omarsidd | May 1, 2009 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Per the CDC, there were 26,000 confirmed cases of influenza in the USA during the 2008-2009 season and there were 55 pediatric deaths during the same season. Those cases were mostly caused by types A and B viruses. The "swine" influenza virus differs very little from these and the number of cases of influenza caused by this virus is very small, considering the total number of cases of influenza that have occurred so far this season. That begs the question, why were the schools not closed, businesses not shuttered, and transportation systems not shut down in February, when there were as many as 2,300 cases of influenza confirmed weekly? Does anyone have a rational, calm, scientific view of this insignificance of the "swine" influenza, or are the American people and government still so fearful that they will overreact to the slightest bump in the road?

Posted by: ChicagoJim | May 1, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

The early stages of a potential pandemic will always involve a small, but growing, number of cases. Since the potential of a flu that is recently mutated (therefore no human resistance has had time to develop) plus the easy human-to-human transmission that this one seems to have, plus the rapid dispersion around the globe of a virus that has proven it can be very deadly merits strong measures to stop it in its path early. If these measures were not taken, and it got a strong foothold in the broad population with rapid expansion and its known lethality in the young in particular, we would be criticizing the slow and negligent response instead of the very cautious one. The old wisdom obtains: better safe than sorry. Especially when the potential is millions of deaths worldwide which H1N1 has.

Posted by: cb1231 | May 1, 2009 6:53 AM | Report abuse

When will the paranoia end? Will all the schools close just because someone has the sniffles or coughs? Get real. On CNN the CDC says that every year 30,000 or more people die in the US from "seasonal" flu. And this is despite vaccines that have been around for years. Tens of thousands of people are killed annually in car crashes in this country. No US citizen has been killed by the Swine Flu, so far. Stop overreacting.

Posted by: VikingRider | May 1, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

When will the paranoia end? Will all the schools close just because someone has the sniffles or coughs? Get real. On CNN the CDC says that every year 30,000 or more people die in the US from "seasonal" flu. And this is despite vaccines that have been around for years. Tens of thousands of people are killed annually in car crashes in this country. No US citizen has been killed by the Swine Flu, so far. Stop overreacting.

Posted by: VikingRider | May 1, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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