Caution urged as three more flu cases identified

A local health emergency was declared Wednesday after three more people in San Diego County tested positive for swine flu, bringing the total number of local cases to eight.

There are also seven “probable” cases of the disease locally, said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer.

Wooten said residents shouldn’t panic about the emergence of new cases of swine flu in San Diego.

“We don’t want people to freak out,” she said. `"We don’t want people

to panic. But, we want people to take action and protect themselves and practice practicable preventive measures.”

Among the probable cases is a 3-year-old girl who was hospitalized overnight, but later released.

The girl, who is a relative of two people who were previously confirmed to have swine flu, had recently traveled to Tijuana, according to Dr. John Bradley, director of infectious diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Bradley said the girl’s symptoms were “mild.”

“If there wasn’t the anxiety about swine flu she probably wouldn’t have been admitted to the hospital in the first place,” he said.

The doctor said there are very few kids in the hospital with influenza

symptoms and none in the intensive care unit.

“If this particular strain was causing as bad a disease as some people

fear, based on the information from Mexico, then we should really be seeing lots of really sick kids in the ICU and we haven’t,” he said.

Among the most recent people to have a confirmed case of swine flu are a 23-year-old military man and the 38-year-old father of two previous cases of the disease, Wooten said.

Wooten would not disclose where the infected military man served.

All of the cases were described by Wooten as “mild,” with symptoms

such as fever, cough, sore throat, malaise and in rare cases diarrhea and


She again urged residents exhibiting symptoms of the flu to stay home

from work and school and only see a doctor if they are suffering from severe complications or underlying conditions.

Wooten said washing your hands and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing goes a long way in preventing the spread of the flu.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the county declared a local health emergency only as a precaution to “cut through the red tape” and ease the procurement of supplies and services to the region.

“There is no reason to panic,” she said.

Meanwhile, classes continued as usual today at San Diego State

University, despite a suspected but unconfirmed case of swine flu on the campus.

“A confirmed case may change the ballgame,” said Dr. Gregg Lichtenstein, medical director for SDSU’s Student Health Services.

“A female SDSU student who lives off campus tested positive for Type A

influenza Tuesday after falling ill and being checked at Student Health Services, university officials said. Additional tests are pending to determine if the student has contracted swine flu, according to Lichtenstein.

SDSU President Stephen Weber said e-mails were sent to all students and staff notifying them about the possible swine flu case on campus and how to protect themselves.

“The health and safety of our students is our primary concern,” Weber


The sick student’s condition was not considered life-threatening and she will not return to classes until she is no longer considered infectious, university officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a

Marine at a San Bernardino County base where Camp Pendleton-based Marines routinely train has swine flu.

The infected Marine at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms will remain isolated in his barracks, military officials said. Thirty other Marines he had been in contact with are also quarantined for five days as a precaution. None of the other Marines displayed any symptoms of swine flu, according to the Marine Corps.

Twentynine Palms is in San Bernardino County about 150 miles northeast

of San Diego County, but troops from Camp Pendleton in Oceanside frequently go there for training.

In Mira Mesa, Christ the Cornerstone Academy reopened Wednesday after

testing determined that teachers at the private school were not infected with swine flu. A 7-year-old who attends the school is one of the five people confirmed to have swine flu in San Diego County.

As of late Wednesday, there were 114 confirmed cases of swine flu in 11states, according to Wooten. The nation’s first swine-flu death -- a 23-month-old girl from Mexico -- was reported in Texas this morning.

The recent outbreak of swine flu around the globe is most prevalent in

Mexico, where about 2,500 people have developed influenza and 159 people are believed to have died from the virus.

As a result of the outbreak, several cruise ships have announced plans

this week to berth in San Diego instead of Mexico, according to the Port of San Diego.

On Monday, the Mexican government closed all schools until May 6 to

prevent further spread of the flu. Although no San Diego Unified School District campuses have been affected so far, Superintendent Terry Grier said steps are being taken, including the distribution of information about the disease to parents in both English and Spanish.

“I think the most important thing we can do is be proactive and focus

on prevention,” Grier said.

The World Health Organization today raised its alert level to “phase

5" indicating a pandemic is imminent.

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