Swine flu confirmed in NYC high school students
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City was dealing with a growing public health threat Sunday after tests confirmed that eight students at a private Catholic high school had contracted swine flu. Some of the school's students had visited Mexico on a spring break trip two weeks ago.
New York officials previously had said they were eight probable cases, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was swine flu, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
About 100 students at St. Francis Preparatory School complained of flu-like symptoms.
Bloomberg stressed that the cases in New York were mild and many are recovering, but also said that parents of the students also had flu symptoms, "suggesting it is spreading person to person."
He said that the virus likely came from Mexico, although that has not officially been determined.
"We do know that some of the students from the school had a spring break in Mexico," Bloomberg said, surrounded by top city officials and members of Congress. "It is most likely to be brought back from Mexico, but nobody knows."
Federal health officials said Sunday that 20 cases of swine flu have been reported so far in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalized. All recovered or are recovering.
In Mexico, health officials say a strain of swine flu has killed up to 81 people and sickened more than 1,000.
New York officials said the flu strain discovered in the patients here is similar to the one in Mexico, but not as severe at this point. They are still conducting tests to investigate the strain in New York.
St. Francis is the largest private Catholic high school in the nation, with 2,700 students. The school canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday in response to the outbreak.
Parent Jackie Casola said Sunday that her son Robert Arifo, a St. Francis sophomore, told her on Thursday that a number of children had been sent home because of illness. On Friday, he said hardly anyone was in school.
Casola said she expected to keep him home from school on Monday, even if it was open. He hasn't shown any symptoms, but some of his friends have, she said, and she has been extra vigilant about his health.
"I must have drove him crazy, I kept taking his temperature in the middle of the night," she said.