Friday, May 1, 2009

Montgomery County officials said Friday they have “indefinitely” closed Rockville High School, due to a suspected case of swine flu involving a special-needs student, bringing Maryland’s total to nine, including three family members of an Obama administration aide.

County officials said they cannot trace the infection to recent travel to Mexico, where the deadly H1N1 virus is thought to have originated.

“We do not know the sources of his exposure,” said county Health Director Dr. Ulmer J. Tillman. “This is a situation where we want to be proactive as well as precautionary.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday confirmed 141 cases in 19 states, compared to 109 cases in 11 states Thursday. There has been one U.S. death, a toddler from Mexico died in Texas, and more than 150 deaths in Mexico.

Dr. Tillman said the student came to school Monday before becoming ill and that his mother took him Tuesday to a doctor, where he was diagnosed with type A influenza.

The announcement comes a day after another county resident was preliminarily diagnosed with the virus after traveling on business to Mexico earlier this month.

Maryland officials say they “completely and wholeheartedly” support the county’s decision to close the school. The other public schools in the county remain open.

“This is an evolving phenomenon across the country,” said Frances Phillips, the state’s deputy secretary for health and mental hygiene. “Schools may be a great place for education, but they also very good vehicles for transmission of disease.”

At least 300 schools across the country have been closed due to the nationwide outbreak of swine flu.

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