Seven probable cases of swine flu in county

Branham High School in San Jose closed for a week

Seven people in Santa Clara County have probably contracted swine flu, state officials said Wednesday afternoon. The announcement follows on the heels of a World Health Organization decision that morning raising the pandemic influenza phase from 4 to 5 -- an indication of its spread across the globe.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in California has risen to 14, and the number of probable cases has increased to 29, according to Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health.

Of the seven probable cases in Santa Clara County, three are in San Jose and one is in Santa Clara. Late Wednesday afternoon, a county Public Health Department spokesperson said she did not yet have information on the other three probable cases that had been reported to the state Department of Public Health.

Of the known probable Santa Clara County cases, the first one, identified Tuesday, is a 16-year-old San Jose girl, according to the county. The others are a 30-year-old male who was not hospitalized; a 32-year-old woman who traveled to Mexico, did not require hospitalization and is recovering from symptoms; and a 53-year-old female.

County outreach investigation teams have been trying to determine who may have come in close contact with the three known probable new cases and therefore exposed to the illness. The county public-health laboratory has tested an additional 40 people for swine flu, but their tests came back negative.

A case is considered "probable" when the flu strain has been identified as type A, but not yet narrowed down to its subtype, according to Dr. Bonnie Sorensen, chief deputy director of the California Department of Public Health. The swine flu is known as A (H1N1).

The World Health Organization (WHO) categorization of the pandemic as a 5 is no cause for alarm, according to Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

"It describes the level of communication and impact on individual communities. This level is simply describing the level of activity that has already been seen. It's not triggering any additional activities on our part," he said. Mostly, the phase 5 categorization is a signal to other countries that have not yet been affected by the swine flu, he added.

According to the World Health Organization Web site: "Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short."

The state Public Health Department also indicated it is providing schools with instructions on how to proceed if a probable case of swine flu case is detected among its students.

If a child is confirmed to have swine flu, or considered a high probability case, the department is recommending closure of the school for at least seven days, Horton said.

In San Jose, Branham High School -- where the 16-year-old girl was a student -- was ordered closed by Santa Clara County Health Officer Martin Fenstersheib.

In addition, Highlands Elementary School in Pittsburg has been closed after three students came down with flu and are being tested to see if their illness was caused by the swine flu virus.

Both schools are closed until May 6 to help prevent the virus from spreading, according to school officials.

Santa Clara County hospitals, emergency departments and community physicians have received instructions for surveillance, collecting lab samples and procedures for sending in their samples, according to public health officials.

On Tuesday, county public-health staff met with the San Jose Mineta Int'l Airport Customs Department and airport security. Passengers arriving from Guadalajara, Mexico were provided swine-flu alert information, a county news release stated. Mexicana Airlines provided passengers with masks.

Public staff is again distributing information to day workers in Mountain View and Morgan Hill, providing them information about where to go for services if they are symptomatic, county officials stated. The flu is believed to have originated in Mexico and has spread internationally.

The virus has sickened 51 people in New York City, 16 in Texas, two in Kansas, two in Massachusetts, two in Michigan, one in Nevada, one in Arizona, one in Indiana and one in Ohio, according to federal health officials. One death in Texas has been reported

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in response to the virus Tuesday morning, which allows the California Emergency Management Agency to work with the state Department of Public Health to prevent the disease from spreading, governor's spokesman Jeff Macedo said.

There are no reported of cases of swine flu in pigs worldwide, according to California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman Steve Lyle.

The food and agriculture department, however, is closely monitoring state farms, slaughterhouses and fairs to evaluate the pigs, Lyle said.

People cannot catch swine flu by eating a cooked pig that has the disease, he said.

The swine flu outbreak was first reported in the U.S. in late March in Southern California and Texas, according to health officials. It is spread mainly person-to-person through coughing and sneezing.

Though not airborne, the virus can spread through droplets. Residents are advised to cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths.

The flu is characterized by a fever of 100 degrees or more, plus a cough or sore throat, and in more severe cases, respiratory distress. Sorensen said that those who feel flu-like symptoms should call their health care providers, who can prescribe antiviral medicine. If taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, the medicine can lessen symptoms and reduce further spread of the virus.

For those concerned about swine flu, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department has activated the Public Heath Information Line: (408) 885.3980.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


Posted by s, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2009 at 2:36 pm


Posted by Mr. I. Wonder, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I'll take bets, some illegal imigrant from s. of the boarder gave us this gift.

Posted by usa, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

usa is a registered user.

Could well be, but lordy, isn't it a bit early in the story development to be firing up the anti-illegal rants?

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

um, far and away the biggest outbreak to date in the US came via a Spring Break trip. Not only is the illegal rant pointlessly incendiary (and kudos for your restraint, usa, given your views on this), but it flies in the face of common sense-- "legal" travel to and from Mexico is a heck of a lot easier and faster, therefore a more likely vehicle for unwanted viruses.

Posted by Mr. I Wonder, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 30, 2009 at 7:21 am

I'm always right, and don't you ever forget it.

Posted by ...yeah, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

Mr. Wonder,

If you are "always right", why didn't you spell "border" correctly? I have met illegal immigrants who can spell better than you can. If you are going to be ignorant, please try to limit your ignorance to just one subject, eh?

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:38 am

USA is a registered user.

"...yeah" --

Too funny. Maybe Mr. Wonder was referring to his roommate.

I noticed you wrote "eh". Are you one of those illegal Canadians who's come down here to take our maple syrup manufacturing jobs?

Posted by ...yeah, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2009 at 9:46 am


Thank you for giving me a smile! I work in the Santa Clara school district, and am a little worried myself. It's nice to be able to experience a little levity. Sigh. Also, oddly enough, I am a dual citizen, though born and raised in Long Beach. So, take off, you hoser! (Bob and Dog McKenzie? Anyone? Anyone?)

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm

USA is a registered user.

"We hope you enjoyed the beer, oh, like I mean the movie, eh." Web Link

Posted by Fran, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm

RE: Mr Wonder

-- He also abbreviated his name differently the second time. If he can't even get that right, I don't know that I'd trust him with anything else!--

Posted by Mr. I Wonder, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 2, 2009 at 7:02 am

Leave it to you bleeding heart sissy liberals to pick out spelling errors. I'ts people like you that help ruin my town.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

I totally agree.

Posted by Fran, a resident of Rex Manor
on May 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment]

Posted by Kendra Jonsdottir, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Oh shame that many people are showing their TRUE COLORS of racism with this event.
In a time where we are suppose to be UNITING, we are trying to divide each other once more.
I have visited Mountain View, and i can tell you it is one lovely multi-cultural city.
When i was trying to get to Castro, i lost my way...but i asked a young hispanic man who with broken english directed to me the right way, before i could say thank you - the young man told me to have a "buen dia", which i found out to mean good day.
I will be honest...i grew up in a racist family and was told colored people were savages. But boy were my parents wrong.
It was insecurity, emotional and psychological problems that made my parents racist; and i can say all racists show those traits - but the trait they show the most is ignorance and denial.

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