First reported 5/20/2009 12:43 p.m.
The two Oak Park students who contracted the H1N1 virus, aka swine flu, had mild symptoms and were back in their schools fully recovered by the time the Village of Oak Park Public Health Department was notified of their condition, an official with the department said last week.
The students, as first reported online by Wednesday Journal, attend Lincoln Elementary School, 1111 S. Grove, and Oak Park and River Forest High School, 201 N. Scoville. Once the students were tested by their family physicians and confirmed with the virus, the department was notified, said Interim Health Director Margaret Provost-Fyfe.
The health department alerted District 97 and the high school last Wednesday that the two students, both Oak Park residents, had contracted the virus. The health department was notified by the physicians within a week to 10 days of its announcement, Provost-Fyfe said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she noted, has recommended that schools no longer close for a suspected or confirmed case of the virus. According to the center’s Web site, closing a school is not advised unless there’s a magnitude of absenteeism among staff and students that interferes with the school’s ability to function.
Provost-Fyfe said the two students are the only confirmed cases in Oak Park. The village has received only a few calls from people inquiring about possible symptoms since the outbreak of the virus in April. Provost-Fyfe said the department instructs people to check with their own doctors. The two students did just that.
Both Oak Park school districts alerted their respective communities via an e-mail blast before the week was out. Provost-Fyfe said people are still advised to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough; if they do become sick with flu-like symptoms, they should stay home for at least seven days.
“We’re using this as an opportunity for the community to continue the recommendations from the CDC and our department about following good sanitary methods,” she said.
The H1N1 virus is a new strain of flu virus and humans have no natural immunity to it. There’s no vaccine for it, but the CDC is currently working to develop one, Provost-Fyfe said.
She added that health experts and her department are still monitoring the virus because it does have the ability to mutate and return in a more severe form. So far, more than 5,000 confirmed or suspected cases of swine flu have been reported in 44 states-Illinois has nearly 1,000 confirmed cases. Eight people nationwide have died from the virus.
As of last Wednesday in Illinois, approximately 794 cases had been confirmed, not including the two Oak Park students, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. As of last Friday, May 22, that number had climbed to 896. Cases are updated daily, Monday through Friday, on the department’s Web site, idph.state.il.us/swine_flu.