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In Colo., Arming Schools to Battle the Flu Virus

Amid renewed warnings of a potential H1N1 flu virus outbreak, one Colorado school district is taking new precautionary steps. Tom Bearden reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight: how schools are preparing for the flu. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports for our Health Unit on how a Colorado school district is dealing with that threat. Our Health Unit is a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    The new school year and football season are in full swing at the Douglas County school system. So far, it's pretty much business as usual in this affluent county just south of Denver, except for an undercurrent of worry about the H1N1 virus, the so-called swine flu. Are you worried about the flu season or not?

  • MARY SENDELL, parent:

    Yes. Yes, I am. I'm just as much worried about them giving a germ to a friend or a teacher or their grandparents. We stayed away last weekend. So, yes, we're worried.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Mary and Wade Sendell have two kids in the system. They have been trying to keep up to date on developments.

  • MARY SENDELL:

    They have a lot of information on the Web site about what to do and what to watch for and when to take — take your kids to the doctor and when not to. We should be more persistent with people keeping their kids home more often, because both kids have said that there's a lot of sick people at school.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Federal health authorities predict that, in the coming months, the virus will make tens of millions of Americans sick, and that thousands will die from it. That's not unusual. About 36,000 Americans die from the regular flu each year. What is unusual is that H1N1 targets school-age children, instead of the toddlers and elderly that are hit by the seasonal flu. Three dozen children have died in the U.S. from H1N1. Most had other underlying health problems.

  • WOMAN:

    Some of the schools have asked, after there's been a case of the flu, could we have a deep cleaning?

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