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H1N1 threat forces school closures

Further investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health has determined that two of Minnesota's cases of probable H1N1 novel influenza virus are in persons in two schools.

As a result, school officials have decided to close the schools Monday as a precaution. One of the individuals is in Orono High School, which is on a campus with two elementary schools and a middle school, all of which closed. The other probable case is a person at Emerson Spanish Immersion School in Minneapolis. Schools will remain closed until confirmation testing is completed or additional guidance is available, which is expected early this week.

MDH is characterizing these cases as "probable," meaning that the MDH lab has identified the virus as type A influenza, but the strain cannot be confirmed as novel influenza using lab tests currently available to MDH. Additional testing by CDC is needed to determine if the individuals have the new strain of H1N1 influenza.

In addition, the MDH Public Health laboratory conducted further tests on the eight probable cases and found that two of them were seasonal influenza. Those two individuals were from Scott county and Polk county. The state now has one confirmed H1N1 case and six probable cases pending confirmation by CDC: three from Hennepin County, and one each from Isanti, Dakota, and Wright counties.

To date, the department has tested samples from 420 people, with about 20 awaiting testing, as of noon today.

None of Minnesota's cases have required hospitalization and all are at home expecting to make a full recovery. The novel strain currently appears to be acting like seasonal influenza.