It's official; the H1N1 virus has made it's way to our area. With a little over week left before school ends in New Hanover County, two elementary schools are now dealing with the flu. "We have three cases in one school and one in another that we are currently tracking," said NHC Health Department Director Dave Rice. In a Thursday afternoon news conference, officials from the New Hanover County Health Department and school administrators discussed the flu cases. Three Gregory Elementary School children have the virus, and one child from Snipes Academy. Officials would not say what grades each student is in. To prevent any spread of the virus, the four students have been required to stay home for a minimum of seven days. Administrators are now working to determine who else might have been exposed to the virus. The health department is warning families to be cautious. "If your child is sick, you should not be sending your child to school,” said NHC Health Department Medical Director Janelle Rhyne. Since April 15, probable cases were sent to the state lab for testing. In the batch, four came back positive bringing the state wide total of swine flu to 18. Parents, students and everyone else is being urged to practice good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and staying home if you do get the flu. "We are all at risk to H1N1 flu virus and parents need to follow preventative measures with their children,” Rice said. The health department says there is no need right now to close Gregory or Snipes elementary, unless more cases are discovered. For now, school nurses are on site to keep an eye out for students who show symptoms.
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