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May 5, 2009 7:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Four confirmed cases of swine flu in Suffolk County; East End safe so far

May 5, 2009 7:29 PM

The New York State Department of Health confirmed on Monday that four suspected cases of swine flu in Suffolk County are indeed the H1N1 virus that first surfaced in Mexico last month.

So far, the East End has been reportedly swine-flu free, with no suspected cases.

County officials announced in April that a probable case of swine flu was found at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park. Then this past Sunday, County Executive Steve Levy, County Health Commissioner Dr. Humayun Chaudhry and Deer Park school officials announced two more probable cases there.

The fourth swine flu case in Suffolk County is a 50-year-old Holbrook man who works at St. Francis, the Fresh Meadows, Queens, preparatory school considered the epicenter of the swine flu outbreak in New York.

None of the four Suffolk County swine flu patients has been hospitalized, according to a county press release, which further stated, “All are expected to fully recover at home.”

Dr. Chaudhry recommended on Saturday that JFK Intermediate School be closed for at least seven days and school district leadership decided to close all six schools in the district for seven days as an added precaution.

“The recommendation to close a school is not taken lightly by our department, nor by the [Department of Health], and is being made in this case, I emphasize, as a precaution only,” Dr. Chaudhry stated. “Between now and next weekend we will continue to gather more clinical information and data and share it with the school district, the parents and guardians impacted by the measures being taken, with the [Department of Health], with all of you, and many others, as we plan our next steps.”

The Peconic Bay Medical Center emergency room in Riverhead has been busy as of late, with patient volume up 10 to 20 percent.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in volume,” said attending physician Dr. William Sommo. “We’re into summertime numbers, which is unusual for late April, early May.”

Dr. Sommo said the emergency room hasn’t seen any possible cases of swine flu, but more people are coming to the ER to report respiratory issues or flu-like symptoms. The ER gets three to five cases a day of people looking to be assured they don’t have the flu, he said, and most have just had the common cold.

“We are taking precautions,” Dr. Sommo said. “If someone seems to be at a higher risk we place them in isolation with a mask until they’re seen by a doctor.”

The World Health Organization reported that there have been 25 confirmed swine flu deaths in Mexico. In the United States, there has been 
only one confirmed swine flu death, a 23-month-old toddler from Mexico who died in a Houston, Texas, 
hospital. Swine flu is also suspected in the death of a 9-year-old boy who 
died on Monday in Stamford, Connecticut.

The Suffolk Health Department is taking swine flu questions from the public at (631) 853-3055.

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