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City Investigates Special Ed School for Flu

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The city's swine flu epidemic may be spreading. City health officials are currently investigating reports of flu symptoms at the School of the Ascension, a parochial elementary school in Manhattan, and P.S. 177, a public special ed school in Queens. P.S. 177 is just blocks from another parochial school, Saint Francis Prep, where the city's outbreak started. Mayor Bloomberg says it may be the reason why students and staff at P.S. 177 have started falling ill.

BLOOMBERG: Of the approx 380 in school, 82 currently called in sick, 12 with fever, and one of those has two siblings at Saint Francis.

Health Commissioner Doctor Thomas Friedan says swine flu is here, and it's spreading, just like garden variety influenza does during flu season.

FRIEDAN: We do not know whether it will continue to spread new strains sometimes fizzle out, over time. and we do not know if it's worse. So far it doesn't appear to be. But it's early.

He says it's been less than a week since the first reports of swine flu at Saint Francis Prep. There are now 44 confirmed cases of swine flu and five probable cases. Those include a two-year-old in the Bronx, who's currently in the hospital, and a woman in Brooklyn, who was also hospitalized, but has been released. Friedan says his agency is focusing on severe cases like those, to determine whether New York City's cases represent a new and more severe strain.

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