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6 NYC Schools Closed , Assistant Principal Dead From H1N1 Virus

Queens Asst. Principal With Swine Flu Dies
Mitchell Wiener Becomes First NYC Death Linked To H1N1 Virus
5 More Schools Close Amid Swine Flu Fears




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Mitchell Wiener, the Queens assistant principal infected with swine flu, has died, becoming the first New York City death linked to the swine flu virus, CBS 2 has learned.

Joseph Gates, the principal of IS 238, has confirmed to CBS 2 that Wiener succombed to the illness Sunday evening. Wiener had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he mourns the loss.

Bloomberg says Wiener was a well-liked and devoted educator. He calls the death a loss for the school system.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein says Wiener enriched the lives of children as a math teacher and an administrator. He says he's "greatly saddened."

Five more schools in Queens were closed Sunday as city officials continued to grapple with what they described as the quickening spread of swine flu.

The closings, which followed a sharp rise in the number of students at the schools who have fallen ill with flulike symptoms, brings the number of shuttered schools to 10 in Queens and one in Brooklyn.

Jessica Scaperotti, a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokeswoman, said that there were no more confirmed cases of swine flu but that the department had decided to close the schools because of "unusually high and increasing levels of influenzalike illness."

A total of 105 students were documented with flulike illness at Middle School 158 in Bayside, Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village and a building in Flushing that houses three schools with a total of 1,320 students, including Intermediate School 25.

All of the schools will be closed beginning Monday for at least five days, the department said.

"We are evaluating the situation and looking at all schools in New York City and making decisions on a case-by-case basis," Ms. Scaperotti said.

Late last week, the city closed five schools in Queens and one in Brooklyn, after five cases of swine flu were confirmed, including Wiener.

The health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said in a statement that while swine flu resembled seasonal flu, it had been spreading more rapidly.

"With the virus spreading widely, closing these and other individual schools will make little difference in transmission throughout New York City, but we hope will help slow transmission within the individual school communities," Dr. Frieden said.

Dr. Scott A. Harper, a medical epidemiologist with the health department's Bureau of Communicable Disease, said that in the three to four weeks since swine flu was discovered in New York there have been 178 confirmed cases, with a vast majority of cases going undiagnosed. "The first hint that it was here was in a school, so we're not surprised to see activity in schools continuing," he said Sunday.

Given the large number of cases, it is probable that more people will become severely ill from H1N1, particularly among those with underlying health problems. The Health Dept is recommending that anyone with an underlying health condition - such as asthma, diabetes or emphysema - that comes into contact with someone who has the flu should contact their doctor immediately to see if there is a need for preventative medicine.

The Health Dept will continue to monitor the situation in all NYC schools, and will make closure decisions on a case-by-case basis.

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Added: May-17-2009 Occurred On: May-17-2009
By: bellava
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Tags: swine, flu, H1N1, virus, NY
Location: New York, New York, United States (load item map)
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