Outbreak 'probably' swine flu at Thurston County high school

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by By DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 11:22 AM

TENINO, Wash. - Thurston County appears to have its first swine flu outbreak of the fall.

More than 35 percent of students from Tenino High School either stayed home, or were sent home with flu-like symptoms this week.

The director of the county's public health department told KING 5 News that officials believe the students are sick with the influenza virus known as H1N1 or "swine flu."

"We assume it's probably H1N1 because we know it's in our community," said Susan McDonald.

The county said students will not be tested to confirm if they have "swine flu" unless they are hospitalized. The county said that has not happened with any recent H1N1 virus patients.

"The vast majority of the people who are getting influenza right now are recovering pretty quickly, over the course of a few days or a week," said McDonald.

The nurse for Tenino schools said she noticed a bug was going around school a week ago.

"Last Friday I sent seven kids home within about 15-20 minutes, with high fevers, coughing, very sick kids," said Charla Dunham.

The absentee numbers at the high school were highest on Monday and Tuesday, according to Tenino's Superintendent.

More than 150 out of the 400 students were not at school those days, said Superintendent Russ Pickett.

On Thursday, about 100 students were out sick, said Pickett.

"My sixth period class had only nine people in it yesterday," said Kristina Johnson, a Tenino freshman who said she stayed home sick Monday.

Johnson and a friend said several students on campus are wearing medical masks this week.

"Because they don't want to get sick," said Brianna Johnston.

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