With 41 cases of H1N1 Flu virus confirmed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Texas and the only U.S. death attributed to the virus in Houston, local residents are feeling the effects of the swine flu, called H1N1. Some of the most affected are Glen Rose students.
Superintendent Wayne Rotan said classes will continue, but all after school and out of town activities have been suspended through May 8.
“We’re still planning on holding prom this Saturday,” Rotan said. “But there’s no reason to risk sending kids anywhere and exposing them or our teachers.”
He said crews are continuously disinfecting and cleaning campus facilities and the district still has no reported or suspected cases.
One suspected case of the type A flu was reported from a nursing home facility in the county. Representatives from Cherokee Rose and the Glen Rose Medical Center Nursing Home said, however, they have not had any cases confirmed or any residents that fit the CDC criteria for swine flu testing.
“We do not have anyone with the swine flu,” said Cherokee Rose Administrator Ricky Villa.
Cleburne ISD has not been so lucky. The nearby school district closed three campuses on April 29, and on Monday, their Web site reported four high school students had tested positive and that school would remain closed through May 8. Three more students are awaiting test results.
“There’s nothing new about H1N1 influenza,” said Dr. Jason Osterstock, an AgriLife Research infectious disease epidemiologist. “In fact, the latest human flu vaccine and most all flu vaccines for humans and swine include a strain of H1N1, which is considered the most common of the human and swine influenzas.”
In the complicated microbial world, small changes make huge differences.
“Viruses can be ribonucleic acid (RNA) or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) based,” he said. Those that are RNA-based, like influenza, may change or mutate rapidly and swap genetic material, as is the case of this latest outbreak,” Osterstock said. “The differences in the genetic make-up of the virus are what make flu viruses differ in terms of what species they affect, how severe the symptoms are and how effectively they may be spread.”
Osterstock said it was a perfect storm of situations: it had to have the right combinations of genes, cause sufficient disease and symptoms to spread, contact had to overlap a lot of things had to fall in place for this situation to occur.
The CDC recommends washing your hands and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, keep hands away from eyes, nose and mouth. Don’t share drinking or eating utensils and stay home if you are sick.
For more information, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/ or the CDC Web site, http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/. The GRISD is updated frequently and can be viewed at www.grisd.net. See page A3 for a list of rescheduled and cancelled school events.