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Oldham County student has swine flu

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By John Foster

 

Oldham County Schools have their first case of swine flu.

Superintendent Paul Upchurch sent a letter home with each student Wednesday with a follow-up automated call stating that there has been a case of H1N1 flu in an OIdham County student. A parent notified the school that their child's doctor diagnosed the flu, but lab results haven't confirmed it yet.

The letter did not say which school the student attends.

Oldham County Schools attorney Anne Coorssen said that's intentional. Although she's received multiple calls from parents wanting to know what school, she believes it's best to keep it secret. 

"We don't want to set off a panic at that school or to become lax on precautions at other schools," she said.

This week, the Kentucky Department for Public Health upgraded the prevalence of flu from sporadic — the next to lowest level on a five level scale — to regional — the next to highest.

Coorssen said school officials expect more cases and are taking precautions to minimize the spread of the flu.

The letter home outlined precautions such as frequent hand washing, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing with the crook of the elbow, staying home with a fever greater than 100 degrees or flu-like symptoms, and staying home more than 24 hours after symptoms abate.

Upchurch also advised parents to keep parent their contact information updated at their child's school.

He wrote, "Even high school students need to take these steps seriously!"

Coorssen said that is because elementary students tend to follow directions well and wash their hands regularly. High school students are less diligent.

He indicated that if enough cases arrive and health officials suggest it, he will consider closing schools to protect student health. Coorssen said if it's the only way to stop the spread of the disease, they will close schools, but despite rumors to the contrary, schools aren't closed this week after one case.

The Centers for Disease control counts more than 43,000 known cases of H1N1 in the U.S. since April. Out of those cases, 89 percent required no hospitalization and less than 1 percent of those infected died.

School-age children have had the highest rate of infection of any age group.