NEW HANOVER CO., NC (WECT) - Concern is growing among some parents after health officials in New Hanover County confirmed four elementary school students have contracted the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
Three of the students are from Gregory Elementary in Wilmington and one is from Snipes Academy in Wilmington.
It has not been released what grades the children who have been diagnosed are in. None of the students are in critical condition and have been told they are all at home resting
All students at Snipes and Gregory were sent home with letters informing their parents of the news.
The New Hanover County Health Department is working to determine who might have been exposed before the patients showed symptoms and will notify anyone who was in contact.
The health department advises people to go home at the earliest sign of the flu in an effort to minimize contact in the community, but no schools will close at this time.
"It was here before it was diagnosed, and it will continue to be around," said NHC Health Director Dave Rice. "There are 13 thousand cases world wide and in the US cases are growing daily. It is just like seasonal flu."
Nearly 29% of students at Gregory Elementary and nearly 21% of students at Snipes Academy were absent Friday.
"It's kinda scary because they say Gregory and Snipes, this is a Gregory and Snipes neighborhood so I thought it could be someone at least around the neighborhood we live," said parent Nikko Scott. "I'm still worried, but I'm trying to keep them protected the best I can."
According to the New Hanover County Superintendent's Office, Friday's absences will be excused.
Snipes Principal Allison Ward said they have been very pro-active about preventing the spread of the virus. She said they made sure anyone who is sick has gone home, and have been scrubbing classrooms even more than usual.
"We've really been proactive that's why we're being cautious," said Ward. "Our custodial staff worked late last night to make sure that all the classroom, every surface has been doubly wiped down so we certainly have done those appropriate things, but it's business as usual."
New Hanover County school officials and the Health Department will hold a parent information meeting Monday evening at 6:00 in the media center at Gregory Elementary.
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chill and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea or vomiting associated with the virus.
The following information provided by the health department can help residents prevent transmission of the novel H1N1 influenza.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick
- Stay at home if you are sick
People who feel sick should check with their health care provider about any special care they might need.
For more information call the State of NC Care Line, 1-800-662-7030 or go to the NC Division of Public Health website, www.ncpublichealth.com.