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Newton hit with swine flu

COVINGTON - Children in Newton and Rockdale counties have been confirmed to have contracted H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Division of Public Health said Monday.

An 8-year-old girl in Newton County and a 12-year-old girl in Rockdale County are the latest confirmed cases in Georgia, bringing the total to 25.

Fifteen of those cases stem from Henry County, and the Newton and Rockdale cases are also linked to that cluster, said Division of Public Health spokeswoman Belen Moran.

A 14-year-old student at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy tested positive for swine flu earlier this month. State health officials believe the student's illness is connected to a group of his classmates returning from a trip to Panama in mid-April. The ill student did not go on the trip.

Moran said she did not know whether the children from Newton and Rockdale attend the private school or have had contact with someone who does.

The school was closed for one day, but reopened after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised closure was necessary only if absenteeism was large enough to impact the normal school day.

The Henry, Newton and Rockdale cases are all classified as mild, meaning no one has been hospitalized, and treatment is being managed by each patient's health care provider, Moran said.

"All or most have already recuperated," she added.

No close contacts of the Newton County case have been affected, she said. The investigation of the Rockdale County case is still ongoing to determine if the virus has spread to contacts of the patient.

"The good thing is this virus is treatable. If it's treated promptly, the treatment is the same as the seasonal flu virus, at home with anti-virals," Moran said.

Prevention of the virus is Wellness 101: Wash hands thoroughly and frequently; sneeze and cough into your elbow to avoid spreading germs; if sick, stay out of work and school and go to the doctor.

"The precautions are the same precautions as with seasonal flu. They sound so simple. I know lots of moms say it all the time, but they are the most effective, most simple, perfect way of keeping any kind of disease away from you," Moran said.

For more information on the virus, including up-to-date information on the number of confirmed cases, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.