Health officials closed a Phoenix elementary school today following a confirmed case of swine flu, but experts say they're not "overly worried" because United States illnesses have been mild.
A child from Moon Mountain Elementary School in Northwest Phoenix showed flu symptoms before news of the virus broke, and tests later proved he was sick with swine flu. The boy has since recovered. The school in the Washington Elementary School District will be closed for at least seven days, said Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, during an afternoon news conference.
"We are nowhere near the point of canceling group events," England said. However, students at schools that are closed shouldn't "defeat the purpose" of the closure by getting together.
England downplayed fears of the virus, saying the cases reported in the United States haven't been that bad.
"It's no more aggressive, making people no more ill than you would expect from a regular flu virus," England said.
Governor Jan Brewer also spoke at the 1:30 p.m. news conference, covered live on some TV stations.
"I feel confident that we have everything under control," Brewer said.
Will Humble, director of the state Department of Health Services, said that while the state may be prepared to identify and deal with the outbreak, the public should be mindful of "those tried and true public health interventions."
People should cover their sneezes, wash their hands frequently and skip work or school if they're showing any signs of illness, Humble said.
Reporters asked a few questions about the state's stockpile of anti-viral medications.
"Not everybody's gonna need it," said England.
But "the horse is out of the barn," he added. "We will find more cases."
Senator John McCain released a statement today commending public health officials, taking care to minimize the "swine flu" name:
"I commend medical officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the Center for Disease Control who are working diligently to respond to the H1N1 (swine flu) influenza outbreak, and hope that the departments continue to take all the appropriate steps to prevent, contain, and eradicate the H1N1 influenza," said Senator John McCain.
"At the same time, many questions still remain, including the question of why the cases of the H1N1 influenza in Mexico appear to be more severe and deadly than the cases seen in the U.S. I continue to believe that all available options to end this crisis must remain under consideration, including closing the border if it would prevent further transmission of this deadly virus."
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