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Press Contact: Zandra Lee, Public Information Officer, Public Health Division, (510) 981-5356

City health officials and Superintendent Bill Huyett agree on actions necessary to reduce spread of flu

Berkeley, California (Sunday, May 03, 2009) - A probable case of the H1N1 flu virus in Berkeley has led to the dismissal of classes at Malcolm X Elementary.

The Berkeley Public Health Division has been notified by the California Department of Public Health of a probable case of H1N1 influenza in a Berkeley resident. The adult resident is recovering and was not hospitalized. That patient's children had flu symptoms and are suspected to have H1N1 because of their close household contact. The Center for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health recommend the dismissal of classes at schools to reduce the spread of infection under these circumstances.

Classes will be dismissed for at least seven days, according to state and federal guidelines. The situation will be reviewed at the end of that time, and health and school officials are encouraging parents to consider that their need for alternative child care may last up to 14 days if the situation does not improve.

"We know that dismissing schools is disruptive and we do not take this decision lightly," said Berkeley's Acting Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman. "But considering how quickly the flu can spread in a school environment, we think this is one of the most important steps we can take to reduce this flu's presence in the student and overall community. These actions are consistent with actions of neighboring health departments and school districts."

Information for Malcolm X: All classes and after-school activities at this location are dismissed. Staff who are well can continue to work and are encouraged to contact the district for further information. The Public Health division will be working with the school district to distribute information and answer questions for families and staff.

Information for other schools and programs: No other schools are affected by this dismissal. Healthy students and staff should plan on attending their regular school day and after school activities.

Persons who are sick (including students, faculty and staff) with fever and flu-like symptoms should stay home from work and school.

Residents are urged to use common-sense methods to reduce the chance of getting-or spreading-the flu.

"The best way to protect yourself and your family is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, always cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you are sick," said Dr. Berreman, Acting Health Officer for the City of Berkeley. "Fortunately, the H1N1 has been a mild virus to date. Our actions are cautious and aimed at reducing the spread of the disease. This is a time to prepare, not to panic." 

This is a good time to do some advance planning. Some things to consider are:

  • If I'm sick at home for a few days, or if I'm taking care of my family, do I have enough medicine, food and water to stay comfortable?
  • Can I reduce my trips out, perhaps by doing one large grocery trip instead of several short trips?
  • If my child's school is dismissed, what are my childcare alternatives?

For background on the H1N1 flu, including a description of symptoms, links to state and federal agencies, and prevention tips, please visit www.CityofBerkeley.info/publichealth or www.cdc.gov.


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