H1N1 flu suspected as dozens of kids stay home sick

H1N1 influenza virus
An image of the newly identified H1N1 influenza virus taken by the CDC Influenza Laboratory.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sixty students were absent at Bancroft Elementary school in Minneapolis today and Minnesota health officials say it's possible they were ill with the H1N1 flu virus.

Bancroft is just the latest in a series of Twin Cities area schools to be hit by an outbreak of flu-like illnesses.

Health officials are only testing a few cases, so they aren't sure what is causing these illnesses or whether it's actually the flu. But if the kids have the flu, officials believe the H1N1 virus -- and not the seasonal flu -- is a likely cause.

"I think certainly in May we did have some cases of seasonal influenza, but I think that what we're seeing now is this novel virus, if it is influenza," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota's state epidemiologist.

Several other Minneapolis schools have seen similar patterns of absenteeism in recent weeks. Health officials are asking parents to keep their kids home for seven days, if they have a fever of 100 or more with a cough or a sore throat.

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