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Closings in Tennessee and Texas
All county schools will be closed today and Friday, according to school system spokeswoman Karen Bridgeman. They hope to reopen Monday.
The system had a 13 percent overall absentee rate on Wednesday, she said. Clinton Middle School had a 20 percent absentee rate; Clinton High School had an 18 percent absentee rate.
The above comments describe the closing of another school district in Tennessee. Absenteeism has been high (see map) in and around Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis and other schools or districts have closed in the past few weeks. Closures in Texas (see map) are also being announced as pandemic H1N1 continues to spread into regions where schools have started the new school year.
Many of these school districts describe additional absences by students with strep throat, colds, or stomach flu, but the vast majority of the other diseases are likely additional examples of pandemic influenza because 50% of flu infections do not produce a fever. Consequently, flu without fever is misdiagnosed, and frequently the infected students remain in school. Moreover, others who initially had a fever may return to school while still infectious, because viral shedding may continue for 1-2 weeks.
These school outbreaks have also been associated with a spike in student deaths, as well as healthcare workers in Tennessee. Although the majority of cases are mild, many students or young adults develop fatal infections that lead to rapid death. These reports are expected to increase as the H1N1 spreads to districts that have recently begun the new school year.