Texas Health Department closes school; bans sick reporters from news conference

April 26th, 2009 - 1:55 am ICT by admin  

Byron Steele High School in Cibolo closed
Another suspected swine flu case being investigated
Officials urge residents of Guadalupe County to avoid public gatherings
Sick reporters will not be allowed entry to a 2 p.m. news conference

TEXAS (BNO NEWS) – The Texas Department of State Health Services says it has closed the Byron Steele High School in Cibolo, effective immediately, as public health and school officials work to keep swine flu from spreading among the population. It was not clear when the school would reopen.

Earlier this week, swine flu was confirmed in two students from the Cibolo high school and a third student is now listed as a suspected case. A statement from the health department said confirmatory lab test results are pending. The first two cases have recovered since they were reported and the third is currently recovering.

“The purpose is to reduce the risk to students, staff and the community,” said Sandra Guerra who is the public health authority for Guadalupe County. She is also urging students not to be around each other while school is closed. “That would defeat the purpose,” Guerra said. The school’s extracurricular activities have also been cancelled.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is urging the school’s staff, faculty, students and their household members to avoid contact with others, especially if they have symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Additionally, the department is “strongly recommending” that all residents of Guadalupe County should not attend public gatherings for the immediate future and ask that anyone with symptoms of a respiratory illness to stay home and avoid close contact with others.

Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to those of regular or seasonal flu and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite and coughing. Some with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Further, health officials say that everyone should follow standard precautions to reduce the spread of swine flu. These actions include:

* Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.
* Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.
* Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Further, the Texas Health Department will be holding a news conference at 2 p.m. local time to update on the developing situation. The department said it would refuse entry to any reporters with symptoms of a respiratory illness.

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