Swine Flue Update: Malcolm X Students to Avoid Public Areas; Montessori Eighth Graders Asked to Stay Home

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday May 04, 2009 - 04:41:00 PM

Alameda County health officials said Tuesday morning the county has one confirmed and three probable swine flu cases so far. 

One of the three probable cases is the parent of two children at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley. 

Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s acting health officer, dismissed classes at Malcolm X Elementary School Sunday after the parent was determined to be a probable swine flu case. Both children are suspected swine flu cases. All three are on their way to recovery, district officials said.  

District Superintendent Bill Huyett sent out a phone message to the Berkeley Unified community Sunday, asking Malcolm X students to stay away from school until May 11. He said the city’s health officer would determine at the end of the week whether students should return to school at that point. 

Reports of confirmed and probable cases of swine flu have closed at least 14 schools across the Bay Area, including Tamalpais High School in Marin County, Malcolm X Elementary in Alameda County and five elementary schools in Contra Costa County. 

The other two probable cases in Alameda County, Willis said, were two new cases. 

“The Centers for Disease Control have told us 99 percent of the probable cases have turned out to be confirmed, so we are treating the probable as a confirmed case clinically,” Berkeley Public Health Division spokesperson Zandra Lee. “It has the same effect on the community.” 

The 50-year-old woman who was identified as a probable case last week has been confirmed as having the H1N1 Influenza virus, Willis said. 

Alameda County has not canceled any events because of swine flu, Willis said. The county’s public health lab sent more than 150 specimens to the state lab so far. 

“We have received some test data back from the state lab and are culling through it.” Willis said. “We should have a statement about the number of negative test results by Wednesday.” 

Malcolm X students are being asked by district officials to stay home and keep away from other people and groups. They have been told not to gather in public venues such as shopping malls, movie theaters, church, sporting events or community centers. Families of Malcolm X students have also been asked to avoid large gatherings. 

Meanwhile, Berkeley Montessori School is asking its eighth grade class to stay home for at least seven days after returning from a trip to Mexico last week.  

Janet Stork, the head of the Montessori School, declined to be interviewed for this story. “I can confirm that there is no swine flu in our school currently,” she said. 

Parents of Montessori students are receiving e-mail updates about the situation. 

Zandra Lee told the Daily Planet the city was aware the students had recently returned from Mexico, but had not played a role in the decision to keep them out of school. 

“They can always consult with us if they want to, but because they are a private school they can proceed with their own decision-making,” she said. 


Tips from Berkeley’s Public Health Division for helping those who are sick with the flu: 

• Have them drink a lot of liquid (juice, water). 

• Keep the sick person as comfortable as possible. Rest is important. 

• For fever, sore throat and muscle aches, use ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not use aspirin with children or teenagers; aspirin use with viral illnesses (like flu) has been associated with the development of Reye’s Syndrome, a life-threatening illness. 

• Keep tissues and a trash bag within reach of the sick person. 

• Be sure everyone in your home washes their hands frequently.  

• Keep people who are sick with the flu away from the people who are not sick.  


For more information: 

Call the city at 981-2489 or 981-5300, or the toll-free, English- and Spanish-language Swine Flu (H1N1) Hotline, 1-888-865-0564. Assistance in other languages is also available. The hotline is operational Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.