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Schools Address Flu Outbreak
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Erring on the side of caution, Escalon Unified School District officials are putting out the word about swine flu - and how you can protect yourself against it.

Officials indicated on Monday that San Joaquin County "has no confirmed or suspect human cases of swine influenza."

But there have been cases confirmed in two counties in southern California and with a contingent of Escalon students and residents returning from a spring break trip to Mexico, the education effort is under way.

"We're just trying to take more of a proactive approach," said Cassie Micheletti, district nurse for the Escalon Unified School District. "We're gong to use our EdConnect (telephone automated message system) to communicate with parents."

Micheletti said if students feel ill, they should stay home, and if their symptoms persist, they should see their private physician. The school has received information from both the San Joaquin County Public Health Department and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) regarding the outbreak of swine flu and will share that information to help keep residents informed.

"We're also going to be doing assemblies for staff and students throughout the week," Micheletti said.

She said the incubation period for this type of flu is roughly 12 to 24 hours and the flu typically lasts from seven to 10 days.

With those timelines in mind, Micheletti said it appears as though all students, staff and local residents that made the spring break work trip to Mexico are in the clear, but she said some have also seen their own doctors just as a precautionary measure.

"We just want to get the information out there to the community and be proactive," Micheletti said.

District Superintendent Dave Mantooth called a special emergency administrative meeting on Monday afternoon to develop a strategy for addressing the situation, with the outcome being the EdConnect messages and plans for the assemblies.

Micheletti said by the end of the week, all students and staff on all campuses throughout the district will have seen the assembly. Along with information about the flu itself, it will offer preventative measures such as making sure to wash hands thoroughly, not sharing utensils or beverage containers with others and more.

In California, there have been seven confirmed cases in San Diego and Imperial counties in southern California, with all of the patients already recovered. The flu has also been confirmed in New York, Texas, Ohio and Kansas and the Mexican government has reported a number of confirmed cases.

San Joaquin County, through its Public Health Service, has activated its Department Operations Center to address the situation, working in cooperation with the state and the county's office of emergency services. The effort will include additional surveillance of patients with flu-like illnesses, periodic website updates to keep information current and issuing guidelines for care, treatment and prevention to area health care providers.