New York Closes 6 More Schools Due To H1N1

The Susan B. Anthony middle school is seen, Thursday, May 14, 2009 in the Queens borough of New York New York City has closed three schools in response to a swine flu outbreak that has left an assistant principal in critical condition and sent hundreds of kids home with flu symptoms, in a flare-up of the virus that sent shock waves through the world last month. The Health Department said the assistant principal from the Susan B. Anthony middle school is on a ventilator, marking the most severe illness in the city from swine flu to date. The students who have fallen ill in this latest surge of illness appear to be experiencing mild symptoms, similar to routine flu. (AP Photo/David Karp)
AP Photo/David Karp
Six more public schools are shutting down as New York City continues combating the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.

The closings announced Thursday follow dozens of others in recent weeks. City officials say the closed schools reported unusual numbers of students with flu-like illnesses.

The newly closed schools are: P.S. 83 and P.S. 182, which share a building in East Harlem; P.S. 503 and P.S. 506, which share a Brooklyn facility; and P.S. 155 in East Harlem. It includes P. 169, a school for disabled students.

The six schools will reopen Wednesday.

As many as four deaths have been linked to swine flu since the outbreak began in the city last month, though autopsies of two of the possible victims aren't yet complete. Authorities say most cases of the virus have been mild.

Separately Thursday, a U.S. health official said a swine flu vaccine could be available as early as October, but only if vaccine production and testing run smoothly this summer.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency began shipping virus samples to manufacturers in the past several days. The government will have to review the safety and effectiveness of what's produced, and decide if a vaccination campaign is warranted. October is about the time seasonal flu vaccine campaigns generally get rolling.

CDC officials reported more than 8,500 probable and confirmed cases in the U.S., including 12 deaths and more than 500 hospitalizations.

The latest deaths from the virus were reported in Mexico - where the outbreak is believed to have started - today.

Mexico reported six more deaths from swine flu, bringing the country's toll to 95.

The Health Department says that 4,974 people have been sickened nationwide. That number includes the 95 deaths.

Health officials say 34 percent of those who died were obese and diabetic.

Mexico says its epidemic has largely subsided, but the confirmed toll has been rising as scientists test a backlog of samples from patients.