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Swine flu hits Las Vegas

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By David Giuliani

The Las Vegas City Schools has at least two students with swine flu, while the West Las Vegas district has none so far, officials said.

On Monday, 13 percent of students in the City Schools were absent  — or 266 of the 1,950 enrolled. At West, 3 percent of students — 52 of 1,658 — were no-shows.

City Schools Superintendent Rick Romero said absences this week have been significantly higher than usual. He said the district confirmed its first two cases of swine flu on Thursday. Both of the sick students attend Memorial Middle School; more cases are expected in the coming days, Romero said.

The district has already sent two letters to parents warning about swine flu, both of which have been posted on the City Schools web site, Romero said.

The district is asking students with flu symptoms and siblings of those with swine flu to stay home.

The state is recommending that students be free of their fevers for at least 24 hours before coming back.

He said the district doesn’t have a definitive threshold for closing schools if absenteeism continued to rise.

“There is no magic number where the influenza would put us in a position where we would cancel school. It just comes to a point where we basically try to come to a determination,” he said.

West Superintendent Jim Abreu said that while his district has no H1N1 cases yet, it’s only a matter time before it does.

“We’re paying close attention, and we’re on top of it. My nurse calls every day about this,” he said. “Mostly, it’s about educating people. Keep your kids home if they’re sick. Our custodians are disinfecting things every day. We’re staying on top of our kitchens.”

Chris Minnick, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, said the flu is widespread throughout the state.

“We’re not seeing any other type of flu in this state. If someone has flu, it’s more than likely H1N1,” he said.

The state has had a few deaths as the result of swine flu, Minnick said, but the disease in New Mexico has been relatively mild so far.

Minnick urged parents to monitor their children closely, especially if they have flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throats and coughs.

“We’re getting reports from several school districts. We’re hearing a lot about absenteeism,” he said.