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Officials Close 3 Area High Schools Due to 'Probable' Swine Flu Cases

Officials Close 3 Area High Schools Due to 'Probable' Swine Flu Cases

Health officials said a Mission Hills High School student was diagnosed as the latest "probable" case of swine flu in the San Diego area, prompting health and school officials to close a third school.

Officials closed two schools Friday when they learned students from each may have the swine flu, Jose Alvarez of the county's Health and Human Services Agency said.

Mission Hills High School and San Diego Unified School District's School of Creative and Performance Arts in Paradise Hills and Kearny High School will be closed until May 18 as a precaution, according to Alvarez.

So far, no San Diego students have been diagnosed with the virus. The Mission Hills student, whose gender and age were not released, remains at home with severe flu-like symptoms, he said.

The two students from San Diego Unified School District who were diagnosed as probable swine flu cases also remain at home, Alvarez said.

"HHSA Public Health Services works closely with local school officials in making a decision about closing a school in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health director, in a release. "The closure of the school is a preventative measure to help prevent possible further infections."

Superintendent Kevin Holt, of the San Marcos Unified School District, said in a release that he understands that closing the school is a "burden" for the families affected.

"But it's a necessary step to ensure the continued good health of our students and faculty," Holt said. 

The Centers for Disease Control advises that schools remain closed for 14 days once a probable case is identified, Alvarez said.

If the tests come back negative, then the school can reopen immediately, he said.

"Students (from the closed schools) are encouraged to stay at home," Alvarez said. "The recommendation is for students to stay at home and not go to the mall or go to the movies.

Teachers are expected to report back to work next week to begin teaching their students online, according to Alvarez.

There are 11 confirmed cases and 19 probable cases of swine flu in San

Diego County, he said. There have been no deaths, according to Alvarez.

Confirmed cases include a 10-year-old boy, a 54-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old boy, a 20-year-old man, a 3-year-old boy, a 38-year-old man and a 23-year-old man.  None of those infected locally have been hospitalized, Wooten said.

Alvarez could not confirm that two Camp Pendleton Marines are among those who have contracted swine flu, as reported by military officials Thursday. The Marines are being treated as outpatients, according to a statement released by the Marine Corps.

So far, there are 160 confirmed cases of swine fly nationwide, and a 23-month-old boy in Texas is the only known person to die from the disease in the United States, according to the CDC.