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Minnesota swine flu case confirmed

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Minnesota's first swine flu case has been confirmed.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta today confirmed the illness was caused by what Minnesota officials call the "H1N1 novel influenza virus."

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A woman connected to central Minnesota's Cold Spring school district came down with the flu earlier this month and her doctor sent a specimen to the state health laboratory, which decided it was a probable swine flu case. However, state health officials waited until the CDC lab confirmed it this morning.

Federal guidelines indicate a school should be closed for a week if swine flu is confirmed.

Two Cold Spring schools remained closed a second day today and Gov. Tim Pawlenty is meeting with Cold Spring-area health, government and law enforcement officials. After that meeting, Pawlenty and others will brief reporters on the latest developments.

School and health officials refuse to say much about the patient other she "has ties to Rocori Middle School." That school and nearby St. Boniface Elementary, which shares some facilities with the middle school, are the affected schools.

Health officials say Minnesotans can help themselves avoid getting the swine flu by taking care of themselves and using proper hygiene, such as frequently washing their hands. They can avoid infecting others by staying home when they are sick and covering their coughs and sneezes, health officials say.

The Health Department has launched a public hotline for information about the new flu strain. The phone - (800) 657-3903 - is answered 8 a.m. until 4:30p.m.

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