Ocean Springs student diagnosed with Swine Flu

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Two south Mississippi students have contracted the Swine Flu. One is a student who attends Oak Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs.

Once the superintendent confirmed that the student was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, he notified more than 6,000 parents in the school district. That's when many parents decided to check their children out of school.

"I'm very afraid of my kids catching it and also myself," Michael Washington said. "I was told that a virus, flu-like symptoms, had showed up here. Just taking a precaution of getting my kids out of school, so, just making sure everything is okay with the kids."

Washington wasn't alone. At least 65 concerned parents checked their children out of school as soon as they received a district-wide phone message from the superintendent.

"I am calling to report that the Mississippi Department of Health has confirmed a case of the Swine Flu involving a student in Ocean Springs," Dr. Robert Hirsch stated in the message.

"Trying to be proactive and very transparent. We didn't want any parent to think that we were trying to cover anything up," said Oak Park Principal Julia Platt.

Platt said the student's mother called the school on Monday to say that her son had flu-like symptoms.

"I immediately told my nurse to go down to the classroom and they totally disinfected the room," Platt said.

The principal said the student is a second grader who probably contracted the virus over the weekend. She said the student has not been in school all this week.

Once the case was confirmed Tuesday night, the district decided to keep the school open. The children continued to practice good hygiene and custodians continued to disinfect door knobs, water fountains, and just about any surface that students can touch.

"They shouldn't panic," Platt said. "It's not any more severe than the seasonal flu. But parents are going to do what they do best and that's protect their children."

The last day of class at Oak Park is Friday, and the student who is ill will not be returning to school for the rest of the week.

The other south Mississippi student who contracted the Swine Flu attends Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg.

The Mississippi Department of Education has a website dedicated to providing school staff, parents, students and leaders in the local community up to date information on the Swine Flu: http://www.healthyschoolsms.org/ohs_main/news.htm

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