Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Our Opinion: Schools open as Pima’s few flu cases fail to spur panic

Robert Nickla prepares clinical samples submitted for Influenza testing  at the Arizona State  Laboratory in Phoenix.

Robert Nickla prepares clinical samples submitted for Influenza testing at the Arizona State Laboratory in Phoenix.

Pima County’s response to six confirmed cases of swine flu has been most sensible, especially compared with reactions elsewhere.

Hundreds of people were being held in a Hong Kong hotel because one man had swine flu, for example, and China quarantined more than 70 travelers simply because they’re from Mexico.

By contrast, in the Tucson area, public schools remain open despite two student cases of confirmed swine flu.

One child who contracted the flu was expected to return to Tortolita Middle School on Monday.

That school – like all others in Marana Unified School District – remained open.

Another student with the flu is from Safford Magnet Middle School; it and all other schools in Tucson Unified School District also are staying open.

Both of the students and the other four people confirmed to have had swine flu here have recovered.

With the school year almost over, and many students taking final exams now, keeping schools open was a logical response by area school districts.

It also was in keeping with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as the CDC isn’t recommending school closures.

The four other swine flu cases in Pima County were confirmed on the Tohono O’odham Nation, authorities said, involving a 3-year-old, two youths of high school age and one adult about 20 years old

The Pima County Health Department now has begun “active surveillance.”

Health officials are checking to see whether other schoolchildren and tribal members contract the disease while also trying to determine who the victims were associating with and checking the health history of their families and friends.

As of Sunday night, the number of swine flu cases confirmed in the U.S. totaled 245 in 35 states.

Only one flu victim is known to have died in this country – a Mexican toddler who was visiting Texas.

Pima County, despite its proximity to the border, has been relatively fortunate to date, and we hope that good luck will continue.

We also are grateful that cool heads have prevailed here, despite hysteria erupting in other quarters. We hope the sensible approach will continue, even if more local cases of swine flu are confirmed.

The swine flu – also known as H1N1 – is, after all, a form of influenza. Regular forms of flu and its complications kill about 36,000 people each year in the U.S. So the outbreak of swine flu is no reason to panic.

Wash your hands frequently, cover your sneezes and practice healthy habits. But like local health and school officials, let’s also keep calm.

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