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Ten Auckland Students Believed To Have Swine Flu

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Police take precautions in Mexico.
Police take precautions in Mexico.

Wellington, April 26 NZPA - Ten Auckland students who recently returned from a school trip in Mexico are believed to have the potentially fatal swine flu.

The Rangitoto College students, aged from 15-18, have tested positive for influenza A after they were part of a 25-strong language group which spent three weeks in Mexico and returned to New Zealand yesterday.

The tests are being sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Melbourne to confirm whether it is swine flu, a subset of influenza A. It could take days for the results to be returned.

Swine flu, also known as H1N1, has been blamed for the death of more than 80 people in Mexico over 1300 falling sick.

Case have also been reported in New York, California and Kansas.

I t was revealed tonight that a group from Northcote College had already arrived in Auckland from a trip to Mexico and two more, from Pinehurst and Westlake Girls High Schools, were yet to return home. Their conditions were unknown.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said precautions were being taken on the presumption the Rangitoto College students had contracted swine flu.

He said it was "highly likely" that the students had swine flu.

"I'm informed that none of the affected patients are seriously ill and most in fact seem to be on the road to recovery."

Others from the 22 students and three teachers who were on the trip have started to show symptoms, Mr Ryall said.

Other passengers on Air New Zealand flight NZ1, which arrived in Auckland from Los Angeles yesterday, were being contacted and were asked to see their doctor if they developed flu symptoms.

All students from the group were being kept in voluntary quarantine at home. Their families were also included in the quarantine.

One student had been hospitalised overnight with a respiratory complaint, but it was not believed to be caused by swine flu and they were discharged today.

Deputy director of public health Darren Hunt said the students had mild symptoms and one student was hospitalised as a precaution.

"I think it is important to recognise the concern that we have and the deaths that have been reported from Mexico.

"At the same time the cases that have been reported from the United States seem to be relatively mild and there haven't been any deaths reported from the US."

Middlemore Hospital has released Tamiflu to treat the patients and those who have had contact with them.

Its effectiveness on swine flu was not yet confirmed, but reports from Mexico said it was effective, Mr Hunt said.

National coordinator of pandemic planning Steve Brazier said the health ministry was "continuing to monitor" the international situation and liaise with the World Health Organisation.

Extra steps would be put in place on planes and in the airport, he said.

Rangitoto College principal David Hodge said the students, aged from 15-18 in years 11-13, had spent most of their time in Mexico City on the Spanish language trip.

The affected students were had not been at school and the school will open tomorrow without the 22 students.

Mr Ryall said he was confident the ministry was doing what was appropriate at this stage.

"We are going to have to watch what happens over the next few days to give you more information on what further actions may be needed."

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