Virus causes panic in LISD

Mercedes Ordonez

     Recently CPHS, as well as many other schools across the nation, experienced widespread panic concerning the H1N1 influenza virus, more commonly referred to as the “swine flu.”  LISD had one suspected case at Baghdad Elementary, however, school officials decided not to close the school because the child was not at school during the contagious period. Even though no schools in LISD closed their doors, many outside events were cancelled. All UIL events, including sports, were postponed until May 12 due to the influenza virus. Not only were these events cancelled, but also many other activities including CPHS’s Penguin National Guard Show, Seasons and Soundwave choir shows and Spanish Club’s Fiesta Texas trip.

     Although the Center for Disease Control, or the CDC, originally recommended that schools close for at least seven days when individual cases were confirmed, they recently announced that since symptoms are usually no more severe than the flu they suggest that schools only close if the H1N1 virus is causing widespread absences of students or teachers. Before the CDC made this announcement, over 100 schools closed either because of a confirmed case, or as a precautionary measure.

     The H1N1 virus is thought to have originated in Mexico, and contrary to popular belief, it did not spread from pigs to humans. According to the CDC, the “swine flu” nickname was given because scientists originally believed there were similarities between this strand of flu and one that occurs in North American pigs. However, upon further research it was discovered that the H1N1 influenza virus has genetic similarities of many strands of the influenza virus including avian, swine and human strands.

     The World Health Organization, WHO, categorized the virus as a level five pandemic, meaning that it is a widespread outbreak that has spread between at least two countries. The new nature of the virus means that few people will have immunity towards it. Also, there is no vaccine for the virus, however there are antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, to prevent and treat the virus. Even with the dangerous aspects, the CDC believes that most people will recover without medical care because the symptoms of the H1N1 virus differ very little from that of the seasonal flu. Therefore, there should be little panic in the future about this new virus.