HISD takes precautions against swine flu

April 27, 2009 9:32:09 AM PDT
Even though there have been no cases reported here in Houston, HISD officials are asking parents to take precautions just in case.[SWINE FLU: The latest news and answers to your questions]

School officials say if your child is sick and has a fever or flu-like symptoms, do not send them to school. You're asked to call your doctor and get treatment as soon as possible.

HISD has TAKS tests scheduled Tuesday through Friday this week. It wasn't immediately clear what effect a high absentee rate might have on that testing.

Over the weekend, local health officials spent a lot of time on conference calls with state and federal leaders. Even though the cases that have been reported in the US are mild, things are changing very quickly.

Officials tell Eyewitness News they have been preparing for something like this over the last five years. With more than a dozen suspected cases in the San Antonio area school districts, they will be closed today as schools are disinfected. Local officials say parents may see cases here as well.

"It would not be surprising if we saw cases here," said Dr. Herminia Palacio with the Harris County Public Health Services. "We've got business travel, recreational travelers coming in and out of the Houston area all of the time."

HISD officials say they are highly concerned, especially given the fact that for this particular strain of the swine flu, there is no vaccination for it and it does spread quickly.

Health officials say it takes a test to detect swine flu. Its symptoms are those of seasonal flu or other illnesses and commonly include a fever, cough, fatigue and lack of appetite. But it can also include a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

HISD spokesman Norm Uhl said students will be instructed about proper hygiene to thwart the spread of illness, such as washing their hands frequently and coughing or sneezing into their sleeves rather than into their hands.

HISD will be discussing the swine flu situation today and getting information out to parents and staff.

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