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Influenza Outbreak Closes Schools

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An outbreak of influenza that began in early January is continuing to close schools around the United States, the Centers for Disease Control reported last week.

As of mid-February, outbreaks of influenza had occurred in 33 states and in the District of Columbia, according to cdc, the Atlanta-based federal agency that monitors outbreaks of communicable diseases.

The first reports of the influenza outbreak came from the District of Columbia, Iowa, Louisiana, New York City, and North Carolina. In the District of Columbia, 50 students at a 400-student private high school reported influenza-like illnesses between Jan. 3 and Jan. 17. In Iowa, 100 pupils in a 400-student elementary school were absent at the peak of a mid-January outbreak.

"Nationwide, reports continue to be received of school and college influenza outbreaks, many beginning since Jan. 9, with high rates of absenteeism and clinic visits," according to a report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although not all of the cases have been confirmed by laboratory tests, cdc reports that the virus in the confirmed cases is usually a type A (H1N1) influenza. In some areas, a different strain of the type A virus has been found. In Oregon, outbreaks among school-age children turned out to be type B virus.

Both strains of the virus produce similar symptoms--fever, aches, a cough and general malaise, according to cdc--sw

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