Washington Co. schools report 2nd H1N1 case

September 09, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County Public Schools on Wednesday reported its second case of H1N1 flu in 10 days.

School system spokesman Richard Wright said officials learned Wednesday that a student at Rockland Woods Elementary School off Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown contracted the virus also known as swine flu.

The first case was confirmed Aug. 31 at Conococheague Elementary School.

Wright said a letter was sent home with Rockland Woods students Wednesday to notify parents of the precautions that school officials are taking.

"Every possible step has been initiated to assure a healthy environment for your child while in school," the letter says. "WCPS staff members are working collaboratively with the Health Department to determine best practice safety precautions and share pertinent information relevant to the H1N1 flu."


Wright said Wednesday that custodians "are being extra vigilant" to keep common areas clean to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The school system is not required to report H1N1 cases to the Washington County Health Department, Wright said. Those reports typically come from laboratories where individual cases are tested.

Karen Black, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped performing case counts of H1N1 flu on July 24.

The health department steps in at schools to test the type of flu strain when a sufficient number of cases are reported, she said.

Rod MacRae, spokesman for the Washington County Health Department, said he didn't know how many county residents have been infected with H1N1 flu.

"We know this particular flu is circulating," MacRae said. "H1N1 is fairly well established."


The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following precautions to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu:

o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

o Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are spread this way.

o Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

o If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

o Students with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever.

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