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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Swine flu shuts area schools

The Swine Influenza virus has made its presence known in Texas. Almost all of the state’s major metropolitans have confirmed cases, and each of those cities are attempting to slow the spreading process of the contagious disease.
San Antonio has shut schools down and Austin dioceses are ordering the discontinuation of the Blood of Christ offering at Eucharist.
“All Eucharistic ministers should wash or sanitize their hands after the sign of peace and before distributing communion,” said the Bishop of Austin, Gregory M. Alymond, in a letter to the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Austin Wednesday. “It is not a sin to miss Mass if you are sick; it is an act of charity.”
Churches around the Brazos are taking many of the same precautions.
“For as long as necessary, we will be providing hand sanitizer at the entries of the Sanctuary. No person with even a sniffle will be serving communion,” said Matt Idom, of First United Methodist Church in Bryan, in a letter to the parishioners.
Precautions that expand much further than the religious realm are popping up over College Station.
An upcoming Texas A&M study abroad trip to Mexico, which 78 students were attending, has been canceled because of the swine flu outbreak.
“All of the decisions that I’m making are based on ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our students and faculty,” said Eric Bost, vice president for Global Initiatives.
But international programs aren’t the only ones putting a halt on Aggie travel. Breathe Hope, a student service organization dedicated to increasing Cystic Fibrosis awareness and helping fight the disease, makes regular trips to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to visit the children in the Cystic Fibrosis ward.
Aware of the rising swine flu epidemic, Breathe Hope member Lacey Johnson called Texas Children’s to ensure that their visit would be allowed.
“When I called, they told me that they were just about to call me,” Johnson said. “Basically, they said we couldn’t go.”
Johnson said that Cystic Fibrosis is a respiratory disease; therefore, any type of illness can become a huge threat to a patient’s life.
Despite the 16 cases and one death in Texas alone, as of Wednesday, the influenza has yet to reach the pandemic level. However, state officials aren’t dropping their guard.
Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Texas on Wednesday, which allows the state to seek federal reimbursement for protective measures against the influenza.
As of Wednesday, no cases of confirmed or probable swine flu infections have been reported in Brazos County, but the county health department has mailed 57 test specimens to a state laboratory.
In any case, until this outbreak becomes controlled, officials over all public gatherings and safety institutions are encouraging everyone to take a more cautious approach.
Recommendations for staying healthy include covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and properly throwing the tissue away after usage; washing your hands with soap and water, or using anti-bacterial liquid as often as possible; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; and avoiding close contact with sick people.
“This is a novel strain of flu,” said Julie Anderson, health services director for the county health department. “But just because it’s a new strain doesn’t mean it’s any more deadly than the seasonal flu.”

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