Ohio swine flu matches deadly strain

Published 10:01 am Monday, April 27, 2009

COLUMBUS (AP) — The swine flu virus that sickened a 9-year-old Ohio boy is the same strain as the one that has killed up to 86 people in Mexico, an emergency official said Sunday.

Laboratory tests by the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the case matches the deadly strain, said Lorain County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Clifton Barnes.

Health department spokesman Robert Jennings said the boy has a mild case of the disease and is recovering at his home in Elyria, in northern Ohio’s Lorain County. The child’s name was not released.

Email newsletter signup

School officials in Elyria closed Ely Elementary School at the urging of city health officials. No additional cases have been identified among students or staff. Parents of students are being advised to monitor their children for fever, cough, body aches and other symptoms.

The third-grader visited several Mexican cities while on vacation with his family before ending the trip in Mexico City, Barnes said.

‘‘He went to a fair, he went to a farm, he went to visit family around Mexico,’’ Barnes said.

The boy, who returned from Mexico within the past two weeks, started feeling sick on Wednesday, Barnes said. He was treated for flu symptoms at a city health clinic, where an astute nurse practitioner began asking questions and realized he might have swine flu, Barnes said.

The child is a student at Ely Elementary School, according to a statement posted Sunday on the Elyria City Health District’s Web site.

He attended school from Tuesday through Thursday last week and began receiving treatment on Friday, said Dr. Alvin Jackson, the director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Jackson and Gov. Ted Strickland spoke at a news conference Sunday, announcing that shipments of the antiviral drugs Relenza and Tamiflu would arrive from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile as early as Tuesday. The drugs are being sent in case the outbreak spreads, Jackson said.

The child in Elyira displayed typical seasonal flu symptoms, including a sore throat and body aches, Jennings said. His family members are being tested for the disease, but they currently are in good health, Jennings said. He did not know if the child or his family had direct contact with pigs while they were in Mexico.

City health officials have sent out an advisory to parents at Ely Elementary, and parents can call a phone bank with any questions regarding the illness.

A message left Sunday with the school was not immediately returned.

Symptoms of the swine flu virus closely resemble those of the seasonal flu and include fever, weakness, coughing and lack of appetite.

Federal health officials said Sunday that 20 cases of swine flu have been reported so far across the U.S. in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalized. All recovered or are recovering.

In Mexico, health officials say a strain of swine flu has sickened more than 1,000 people.