County officials say the swine flu problem in San Diego will get worse before it gets better.
Eighteen cases of swine flu have been confirmed or suspected in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Five of them reported in San Diego – a 10-year old boy on April 21, a 54-year old man and his 16-year old daughter on April 23, a 7-year old boy on April 24 and a 20-year old man on April 27. Because of privacy concerns, the locations of the reports are being kept confidential.
One school, Christ the Cornerstone Academy in Mira Mesa, would close its doors as a precaution.
"There is some concern about potential illness among contacts, including teachers, of one of the previously confirmed cases," County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said Monday. "The closure is a precaution to make sure the virus does not spread among the school population."
Several parents were seen leaving with their children at Christ the Cornerstone Academy in Mira Mesa on Monday afternoon.
"I'm glad they're taking the action to make sure everyone stays safe," said Bobbie Bryant of Tierrasanta. Her daughter is a third-grader at the school.
In light of the spread of the swine flu in Mexico and in parts of the U.S., school staffers will take steps this week to make sure desks and keyboards are wiped down and bathrooms are stocked with soap.
School bus drivers, who routinely wipe down the vehicles, will be reminded to do so daily.
San Diego County schools superintendent Randolph Ward held a telephone conference call Monday with 36 of the 42 superintendents of the school districts in San Diego County.
The basic message to principals and teachers: remind children of the simple steps needed to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.
At San Diego Unified Schools, Superintendent Terry Grier sent a note to parents and students Monday telling them about the county's Swine Flu Hotline (858) 715-2250 and asking parents especially to be on the lookout for illness in their children.
"We will continue to closely monitor our schools and children, respond to any public health announcements and rapidly provide information through our website and automated phone system," Grier wrote in the letter.
For now, all other schools remain open in the county, and, unlike in Mexico, no public events have been canceled due to the illness. U.S. travelers, however, are being urged to avoid all unessential travel to that country.
According to Wooten, help was on the way.
"The first batch of anti-virals has been released and is on its way to San Diego County," Wooten said. "We will be receiving more in the coming days."
Eleven million doses are being shipped to states with confirmed cases of swine flu.
In Mexico, state health authorities looking for the initial source of the outbreak toured a million-pig hog farm in Perote, in Veracruz State. the NY Times reported Tuesday. The plant is half-owned by Smithfield Foods, an American company and the world’s largest pork producer, according to the paper.
Richard Besser, the acting head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, also said that the U.S. government was being "extremely aggressive" and saying he wouldn't personally recommend traveling to parts of Mexico where the new virus has taken hold. But he noted that the issue of a travel ban was under discussion and that nothing had been decided.
Besser said that while the U.S. hasn't advised against travel to Mexico, it has urged people to take precautions, such as
frequent hand-washing while there.
On Monday, border officials started "asking people about fever and illness, looking for people who are ill," Richard Besser, the acting head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said. Travelers with flu-like symptoms would be given detailed health checks.
Besser also said that the U.S. government was being "extremely aggressive" and saying he wouldn't personally recommend traveling to parts of Mexico where the new virus has taken hold. But he noted that the issue of a travel ban was under discussion and that nothing had been decided.
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-El Cajon, urged the Obama administration to consider shutting down all "nonessential" travel from Mexico to the United States, according to our media partner the North County Times.
"If the State Department is restricting all nonessential U.S. travel to Mexico as a precaution, similar steps should also be taken to restrict cross-border traffic entering the U.S. from Mexico,"Hunter said in a statement issued in Washington.
"Given the San Diego community's close proximity to the border and the fact that nearly 340,000 people enter the U.S. through Southern California's ports of entry every day, the necessary precautions must be taken to ensure this virus does not spread any more," Hunter said.
San Diego County residents who are seeking more information on the swine flu can call 211 San Diego.