Swine flu scare cuts short 4
Teens from the Winona County 4H carry their bags from the 4H building at the Minnesota State Fair to waiting buses after their normal stay at the State Fair Thursday Sept. 3, 2009. note: they weren’t and aren’t sick) (Pioneer Press: Chris Polydoroff)
More than 100 4 H teens were ordered home from the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday after four of their dorm mates were diagnosed with the H1N1 flu and as many as 13 others suffered flu like illnesses.
The teens were part of the 4 H statewide Arts In and Ambassador programs, which have canceled their performances and events for the remainder of the Fair.
The teens had been in contact with those who had fallen ill and were at risk of becoming sick themselves and spreading H1N1 further. With an additional 400 4 H teens arriving Thursday afternoon, Fair leaders moved quickly to isolate the at risk kids and to clean and disinfect the 4 H dormitories before the newcomers arrived.
The decision was encouraged by Dr. Sanne Magnan, the state health commissioner, who coincidentally took part in a Fair hand washing contest Thursday morning to promote H1N1 prevention.
“They made the decision to put the health of the kids first,” she said. “It’s 4 H, and one of those H’s stands for ray ban uk health.”
The outbreak presents little or no risk to patrons, officials said. State Fair executive vice president Jerry Hammer called the Fair a “safe place to come” and encouraged everyone to enjoy the four remaining days.
And though H1N1 is also known as swine flu, it spreads from person to pers ray ban uk on. Visitors to the hog barn would be at no greater risk than anyone else.
The incident nonetheless is a strong reminder of H1N1’s continued presence in Minnesota and the exposure risk for children as they prepare to mingle with one another in school next week.
Health officials reminded people to take common sense precautions such as washing hands thoroughly and covering coughs to minimize the effect of H1N1, which has spread mostly among children and teenagers since it emerged as a global influenza strain last spring.
The median age of Minnesota’s hospitalized cases is 12.
H1N1 continues to mimic seasonal influenza, causing high fevers and aches.
None of the sickened 4 H teens ranging in age from 15 to 19 required hospi ray ban uk tal care or suffered more severe effects.
The H1N1 news frightened Meenu Sinha, of Farmington, whose 17 year old daughter, Kirti, had been staying at the 4 H dorm and had come down with cold symptoms. A doctor diagnosed her with only bronchitis, though, she said. Her daughter had been tiring out as she shuttled between the Fair and school activities back home.
“She’s just stressed out,” her mother said, “after everything.”
Fair officials intensified their public health measures to prevent outbreaks among the next wave of 4 H participants. Health care workers will screen all of the incoming teens for cold or flu symptoms and will intervene if any develop symptoms during their stays in the 4 H dorms.
and we’ll invite their parents to come and pick them up,” said Dorothy McCargo Freeman, 4 H state program leader.
Of the teens sent home, 86 were State Arts In participants actors, musicians, costume designers, set managers who still had several shows scheduled at the Fair. The others were state 4 H ambassadors who helped promote the youth organization.
McCargo Freeman said the teens were “very emotional” as they learned that their trips were cut short and that they wouldn’t perform after all of their hard work and practice.
Other teens left the 4 H building Thursday after shorter stays at the Fair.
Some had befriended the ambassadors and state performers who were isolated and sent home.
Lizzie Jensen, 15, of Stillwater, was leaving as scheduled Thursday after taking part in some county level skits. She felt bad for those who were forced to leave early, especially because so many of them weren’t sick.
Vaccine: Separate fr ray ban uk om seasonal flu shots, the new H1N1 vaccine likely will arrive in limited quantities in mid October.
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