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Swine flu reported at Merced schools

Schools in the Weaver School District have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students staying home due to flu like symptoms.

"We've had some flu symptoms going around and we’ve seen an increase in absences," district superintendent Steve Becker said Thursday. "We suspect that there are, among the flu cases we have, some more H1N1 infections."

Becker said one child from the district was confirmed to have contracted swine flu, and there were two additional probable cases.

The bulk of student absences have been from Weaver Middle School, but there have also been cases at the district's two other school sites: Farmdale and Pioneer elementary schools.

Golden Valley High School principal Craig Chavez said he recevied a call from Becker about the absences in the Weaver district, which is near the high school. Chavez said one Golden Valley student is out of school with flu-like symptoms, but there was no indication of the H1N1 strain.

New federal regulations at the beginning of this school year encouraged schools and districts to remain open even if there was a verified case of the swine flu on campus.

The best way to prevent the spread of the disease is to follow common-sense standards of personal cleanliness and to avoid school or work if ill. "If you have a sick child, don't send them to school," Becker said. "Because we will just send them back home."

Reporter Danielle Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dgaines@mercedsun-star.com.

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