After two cases of the so-called swine flu were confirmed at Hunter Elementary School in North Philadelphia, more than 100 students and 14 staff members at the school are absent today with the flu or flu-like symptoms, or out of fear of catching the illness.
Hunter is the third Philadelphia public school with confirmed cases of the illness, a novel type of H1N1 influenza, according to schools spokesman Fernando Gallard. He said Hunter's high absenteeism at the 507-student, K-8 school is the result of advice from public health officials to stay home if students or staff show any signs of the flu.
Two students at the school have the H1N1 influenza.
The school is open today and making accomodations since 14 of the school's 41 teachers and other staff members did not come to work today.
The school, located in the 2400 block of North Front Street, will hold public meetings for parents to answer any questions about the flu tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday at 7:00 a.m. Administrators declined to comment on today's absenteeism.
Unlike the seasonal flu, this new flu has targeted mostly young people. As of last Thursday, the state Health Department reported that more than 80 percent of the cases in Pennsylvania had been people under the age of 30. Six percent were children 4 or younger; 21 percent ages 5 to 9; 31 percent ages 10 to 14; 12 percent ages 15 to 19; and 13 percent ages 20 to 29.
Yesterday, a 26-year-old woman became the first Philadelphia resident to die of complications related to the illness. As of Monday, the state Health Department had recorded 78 cases of this kind of flu in Philadelphia with nine probable cases under investigation.
Public health officials are urging residents with flu-like symptoms to stay home from school or work and seek medical attention, stressing that all forms of the illness are treated the same way.