Governor Bobby Jindal, DHH Secretary Alan Levine and DHH health officials recommended closing Cathedral Carmen School as a precautionary step, after tests showed five possible cases of the H1N1 virus (known as "swine flu"), including one involving a student who recently returned from Mexico.
Jindal said, “I want to emphasize that this is a precautionary step out of concern that some of these students may have the virus. We’ve got to do everything we can to keep our children and all Louisianans from being exposed if these tests come back positive.
“If this is indeed the swine flu, then it’s very important we contain it immediately. We think it’s prudent to close the school to try to prevent any further spread of the virus.
“Again, I want to highlight how important it is for all Louisianians to take proper steps to protect themselves and prevent the spread of any germs.”
Samples of five Cathedral Carmen School students are being tested by the State Public Health Lab to determine if the sample is un-typable for H1N1 (swine flu) virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm after the state test. The students, all 6th graders, have tested positive for Influenza Type A, which may indicate the H1N1 virus.
DHH epidemiologists and medical experts have confirmed that the family of one of the suspicious cases recently returned from a cruise to Mexico, which may have exposed them to potential infection.
State laboratories will have preliminary results by Thursday. If a case tests positive for Influenza Type A and the subtype cannot be determined, the sample is immediately forwarded to the CDC lab in Atlanta for confirmation of the H1N1 virus. This is a protocol followed by all states.
The CDC has determined that the H1N1 (swine flu) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu, but there are steps Louisiana citizens can take to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as influenza.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
Avoid close contact with sick people.
If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
The CDC does not recommend the use of antivirals as a precautionary measure to prevent infection of any influenza virus. It should only be used for treatment of confirmed cases of influenza.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. As always, any Louisianian experiencing flu-like symptoms should consult his or her physician.