From: AFP
Published May 15, 2009 08:46 AM

3 schools closed, staffer hospitalized in NY swine flu outbreak

New York officials announced Thursday they were shutting down three schools in response to a swine flu outbreak and that one staff member had been hospitalized in serious condition.

The three schools, with a total of about 4,500 students, will close Friday and all next week in response to "an unusually high level of flu-like illnesses at those schools," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The staffer, an assistant principal, was hospitalized, he added.

The outbreak came less than two weeks after New York health authorities pronounced the all clear at several other schools that briefly made the city the main location for swine flu cases outside of Mexico, where the disease apparently started.

Worldwide, more than 6,000 people have been confirmed contracting the swine flu virus, according to the latest figures Thursday. A total of 65 people have died, most of them in Mexico.

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Bloomberg said swine flu had been identified in four students at one of the schools, all in New York's Queens neighborhood, "as well as in a staff member at the school who is critically ill."

"More than 50 students have been sent home from the school with flu-like symptoms" from that school, he said.

At a second school, 241 students reported absent Thursday, and at a third 29 students were documented with "influenza-like symptoms."

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