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Published May 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

Duluth school district reports first swine flu case

District officials were informed by the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday morning that a student attending Homecroft Elementary School has the virus.

By: Sarah Horner and Andy Greder, Duluth News Tribune

A confirmed case of the H1N1 virus, also called swine flu, has been found in the Duluth school district, an official said Thursday.

District officials were informed by the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday morning that a student attending Homecroft Elementary School has the virus.

“We have been just waiting for it, and today it arrived,” Duluth Assistant Superintendent Joe Hill said. He added that school nurses have been on the lookout for the virus since the outbreak first occurred, and they have reported all students and staff members who stay home with flu-like symptoms to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The student reportedly is doing well, Hill said.

Though earlier instances of H1N1 found in Minnesota schools resulted in school closures, Hill said health officials are not advising Duluth to change its schedule.

The Department of Health also notified SMDC Health System on Thursday that one of 17 cases it has submitted for testing since the swine flu began weeks ago was positive, said spokeswoman Kim Kaiser. She couldn’t confirm that the case was the same as that reported by the school district.

However, the health department reported only one confirmed H1N1 case in Duluth, and that was the Homecroft student.

Kaiser said the patient was briefly hospitalized after being cared for under guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday it has narrowed the definition of an illness that might be a potential case of swine flu. Symptoms include a temperature of 100 degrees or more combined with a cough and/or a sore throat, but not a runny nose.

St. Louis County Public Health Director Guy Peterson said a confirmed case of swine flu was inevitable and no additional health measures will be taken.

“Everybody should expect it in their community,” Peterson said. “He [the student] is recovering, like 99 percent of cases. As we’ve seen so far, all the cases are like the seasonal flu.”

Hill said the student found to have the H1N1 virus was in school earlier this week before becoming ill and has been out of the building for more than 24 hours, during the period when people are most contagious.

“We have well exhausted that time period, which adds to how we are responding to this,” Hill said.

Though a strep virus is going around the district, he said, schools have not seen a spike in students absent with flu symptoms.

Staff writer Jana Hollingsworth contributed to this report.

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