Probable Swine Flu Cases Quadruple in Illinois

16 Chicagoland schools temporarily close

By Zach Christman and BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, Jul 30, 2009  |  Updated 1:44 PM CDT
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A soccer fan wears a protective mask during a match between the Chicago Fire and Club America from Mexico at Toyota Park at April 29, 2009 in Bridgeview, Illinois.

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From YouTube to Twitter to NBCChicago.com, people are going online in droves for up-to-the-minute swine flu information.

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There are now 51 "probable" cases of swine flu in Illinois, all of them in Chicagoland, according to information released Thursday evening by the Illinois Department of Health.

The cases are comprised of 15 people in the City of Chicago, 11 more in Cook County, eight in Kane County, three in Will County, 11 in DuPage County and one each in Lake and McHenry and Kendall counties.

"I would not be surprised if we start seeing just a few deaths," said Dr. Terry Mason, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health.

Sixteen schools in the area have closed because of concerns over swine flu (see full list below).

Of the probable cases already identified in Chicago, one is a student at Kilmer Elementary School and two are employees at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a hospital spokesman told the Tribune.  A Loyola University student was sent home to the St. Louis area due to a probable case of swine flu.

"I had a very severe headache.  I was dizzy and (my head) was pounding," said Loyola student Michael Hairsine, who is now doing OK. "I was very weak; I could hardly get out of bed." 

The three probable cases in Will County came after residents presented themselves to local hospitals.  The patients, an 11-year-old girl from Joliet, an 8-year-old girl from Joliet, and a 7-year old-girl from Joliet, have been released and are recovering.

In Kane County, a Haines Middle School girl is another likely case. 

Two other Cook County cases are an 11-year-old boy, from Streamwood, and a 27-year-old man from Lemont.

The U of C employees are recovering at home and are also doing well, the spokesman said, adding that other employees and patients with flu symptoms are being tested for swine flu. Some of those with flu have verified cases of seasonal flu, unrelated to the swine flu outbreak.

Everyone going into U of C Med Center is urged to use hand sanitizer as they enter.

Spokesman John Easton said the hospital doesn't want its "proactive approach to be mistaken for undue alarm."

Also Thursday, several state agencies and the Illinois National Guard said they are assisting with the receipt and repackaging of anti-viral medications and medical supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile, which began arriving in Illinois on Wednesday.  Kits containing the supplies will be shipped to local health departments and hospitals throughout the state, with distribution expected to continue through the weekend.

As Illinois continues to prepare, state health officials are more than doubling their normal rations of anti-viral medications given to flu patients.

Officials are repeating the same message to residents:  don't panic, wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough and stay home if you feel sick.  The CTA is continuing to deep-clean its buses and 'L' cars only once every 14 days -- which means you should definitely wash your hands after public trans.

Mayor Daley reminded Chicago residents that they can get flu updates on AlertChicago.org. Illinois residents can also go to the state Health Department's site, Ready.Illinois.Gov, or contact their local health department directly, here. For nationwide swine flu information, check the CDC's Web site.

School Closures:

Kilmer Elementary in Chicago -- closed until further notice
Rotolo Middle School
in Batavia -- reopens Monday, May 4
Batavia High School in Batavia -- reopens Monday, May 4
Marmion Academy in Aurora -- reopens Monday, May 4
Bednarcik Junior High in Aurora -- reopens Monday, May 4
Fox Chase Elementary in Oswego -- reopens Monday, May 4
Thompson Junior High in Oswego -- reopens Monday, May 4
Farragut Elementary in Joliet -- reopens Tuesday, May 5
Sator Sanchez Elementary -- reopens Tuesday, May 5
Haines Middle School in St. Charles -- closed until further notice
Ridge Circle Elementary in Streamwood -- closed until Monday, May 11
Homer J. High School -- closed Friday, May 1
Hadley School -- closed Friday, May 1
Goodings Grove School -- closed Friday, May 1
Luther J. Schilling School -- closed Friday, May 1
William J. Butler School -- closed Friday, May 1

Looking for more information about swine flu in your area? Just mouse over your state to learn more.

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