New York City is at center of swine flu outbreak
A masked Edison High School student, who wished not to be identified, leaves New York Hospital Queens after being diagnosed with the flu, and, according to his guardian, left, will await test results to determine if it is of the swine flu strain. AP photo
New York City is at the center of a swine flu outbreak that was declared a national health emergency Sunday by federal officials who said that additional and more severe cases will likely crop up in the coming days.
So far, there have been at least eight confirmed cases in the city all students at St. Francis Prep School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. The students symptoms were described as relatively mild, though they were infected with the same strain of the virus found in Mexico, where more than 80 people have died. City officials are now on high alert.
We are looking for outbreaks elsewhere, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Sunday. Every few hours, we look at the data, we check the reports.Nationwide, 20 people have been infected in five states, with New York having the most number of cases. In response, the federal government has released over 12 million doses of anti-viral medicine.
In addition, the city is:
-Receiving a shipment of 1,500 treatment courses of Tamiflu
-Monitoring ambulance calls and prescriptions filled at pharmacies
-Checking absentee rates and school nurse visits
-Closing St. Francis Prep today and tomorrow to await test results from other students
It all sounds pretty dangerous, Dionne Ward, 39, of Manhattan, said after hearing about the rapid developments of the outbreak. Flus can be cured most of the time, but if this one cant, people should be worried.
More than 100 students at St. Francis have reported flu-like symptoms and Bloomberg said some of their family members are sick as well. A group of students spent spring break in Cancun, though city officials would not say if they were among the eight confirmed to have the illness.
Because the flu is a new strain, federal health officials said that they doubt the seasonal flu vaccine would protect people from this virus.
City officials are urging people not to go to the hospital with mild symptoms but only if they feel sick enough that they would have gone anyway.
My mom left me a voice mail last night telling me to get a face mask, said Paige Kollock, 31, of Manhattan.
Andrew Breiner, Heather Haddon and the AP contributed to this story