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U.S. confirms 4 A/H1N1 cases in Alabama
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14:35, May 06, 2009

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U.S. health officials on Tuesday confirmed four A/H1N1 infections and identified four as probable cases in the Alabama state.

The total number of probable and confirmed cases rose to 18 in the state, officials said.

New federal guidelines, however, do not call for closing schools for a probable or confirmed case of A/H1N1 flu.

"I am grateful that the A /H1N1 illness is mild enough that school dismissal up to 14 days is no longer thought to be necessary," Dr. Don Williamson, State Health Officer said on Tuesday.

"It is important that ill persons not go to school or day care facilities for at least seven days after the onset of illness, including one full day of being well before returning to class." he said in a written statement.

"If the disease becomes more severe, school dismissal might be recommended again in the future. Furthermore, school authorities might close schools if absenteeism is so high that it interferes with education." he added.

The 18 confirmed or probable cases of A/H1N1 flu have been detected in Madison, Jefferson, Shelby, Montgomery and Pike counties.

During a lunchtime press conference at the CDC on Tuesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius also denied the closure of schools as a way of avoiding A/H1N1 flu.

Federal health officials are reversing themselves on the issue because they have learned that the A/H1N1 flu virus is not nearly as lethal as first feared.

In addition, Sebelius said local public health agencies have been reporting an outcry from parents and teachers about the burden of school closures. "We hope this will alleviate some of the burden," she said.

Dr. Richard Besser, acting CDC director, said there have been reports about parents losing jobs because they have to stay home and take care of their children.

Children have also been reportedly dropped off at malls and libraries because parents didn't know what else to do with them, he said.


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