Mayor: 45 cases of ‘confirmed and likely’ swine flu cases at Queens school

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Twenty-eight students at a Queens parochial school have confirmed cases of the potentially lethal swine flu, with 17 others likely having the illness, New York City’s mayor said Monday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg emphasized that St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows appears to be the only cluster of the virus in the city.

“We are still dealing with a single cluster,” Bloomberg said at a news conference.

The 28 students confirmed to have swine flu are improving, Bloomberg said.

None of the cases are severe, officials said.

The mayor said that “probably” more than 100 students from the school have the virus.

Click here to see the latest swine flu photos, from NYC and Mexico

St. Francis Prep announced it will be closed Monday and Tuesday “because of the number of students with flu-like symptoms,” according to the school’s Web site.

The swine flu is suspected in the deaths of 149 people in Mexico. Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said only 20 of the deaths have been confirmed to be from swine flu and the government was awaiting test results on the rest.

Health officials say of the 40 confirmed cases in the United States all those sickened have recovered or are in the process of recovering.

Nassau officials said they have one suspected case and test results for eight Suffolk residents were negative.

The one case of suspected swine flu in Nassau may not be confirmed by the state, Nassau Commissioner of Health Dr. Maria Torroella Carney said Monday.

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“The young adult we suspect of having the swine flu had only mild symptoms and has been sent home,” she said. “The state told us today that it was prioritizing the cases it would test, starting with the most severe first. There are a lot of other cases around the state, so we don’t know when it will get to ours.”

The commissioner said her office is preparing for more cases of the disease.

“Some of our residents attend St. Francis Prep School, and we know it [swine flu] is in the metropolitan area. So we’re in touch with schools and hospitals on a daily basis, trying to get a better picture of what is going on in Nassau.”

President Barack Obama said Monday there was concern but not yet “a cause for alarm.”

A travel advisory was being prepared suggesting Americans not travel to Mexico, the center of the outbreak.

One of the confirmed cases involved Esti Lamonaca, 18, of Forest Hills, a senior at St. Francis Prep, health officials told The Associated Press.

Lamonaca said she began feeling ill two days after she and 11 friends returned from a spring break trek to Cancun, Mexico.

She said she had been unaware of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico until friends called her Friday afternoon to tell her – and she then went on the Internet and realized she had the symptoms.

She told Newsday that officials at North Shore- Long Island Jewish Hospital said she “probably” had swine flu.

“I never had such a high fever – 103,” Lamonaca said. “That was scary.”

Late last week students began overwhelming the nurse’s office at St. Francis Prep, complaining of fever, nausea, sore throats and achy bones. The nurse notified the New York City Health Department – and when more students reported being sick Friday, the health department dispatched a team to the school.

Officials said that team got caught in traffic and didn’t arrive at St. Francis until 3:30 p.m., just as classes were being dismissed for the weekend.

Brother Leonard Conway, principal of St. Francis, said only a handful of students were still around and that eight of them promptly tested positive.

Some of those infected had recently visited Mexico.

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Nassau Health Commissioner Maria Torroella Carney said the county’s suspected case involves a person who had traveled to Mexico recently and had mild symptoms.

Tests on flu swabs for eight Suffolk residents returned from the state lab in Albany negative for the swine flu, officials said.

In response to the outbreak, roughly 12 million doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu will be moved from a federal stockpile to where states can quickly get it, Napolitano said.

Meanwhile, cleaning crews spent Sunday scrubbing down the building at St. Francis.

“I haven’t been out of my house since Wednesday and am just hoping to make a full recovery soon,” Lamonaca told The Associated Press. “I am glad school is closed because it supposedly is very contagious, and I don’t want this to spread like it has in Mexico.”

Some schools in Texas, California and Ohio also were closing after students were found or suspected to have the flu.

The outbreak has people on edge across the country.

Officials along the U.S.-Mexico border asked health care providers to take respiratory samples from patients who appear to have the flu. Travelers were being asked if they visited flu-stricken areas.

The St. Francis Prep Web site is asking faculty – as well as students – to take a “Flu Survey.”

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