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Flu Strategists See Schools on Front Line

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Nelson Hernandez and David Brown
Washington Post
Monday, August 24, 2009

One of the main battlegrounds in the fight against an expected resurgence of swine flu this fall will be the schoolyard, a place where the disease could, well, go viral.

People between 6 months and 24 years old appear to be particularly vulnerable to the swine flu virus, known as H1N1. And there are several reasons to think that schools could be hotbeds of infection:

Large groups of children and young adults? Check.

In close proximity? Check.

Lax sanitary standards? Check.

And with schools expected to remain open unless the virus becomes more severe, there’s little standing in the way of H1N1’s spread.

At the same time, schools are likely to serve as centers for mass immunizations, which could sharply reduce H1N1’s reach, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local authorities. So far, the swine flu does not appear to be more dangerous than the typical seasonal flu. But medical authorities are concerned that it could infect many more people — thereby increasing the potential number of deaths — because so few people have immunity against it.

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This article was posted: Monday, August 24, 2009 at 9:34 am

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