Safety -- or Swine Flu Follies?

Swine Flu Follies

One woman's sniffle diverted an international flight Friday, several students' travel plans cost them their graduation ceremony Saturday and thousands of students in Dallas have had to put off their proms because of the threat of the swine flu virus.

But when Paula Martin heard last week that her two boys were sent home from school because they recently returned from a vacation in Mexico, the Boulder, Colo., mom put her foot down.

"My kids are not ill and deserve to be in class," Martin told the Boulder Daily Camera. "I said, 'This is nuts. ... My kids have a legal right to have access to public education."

Just hours after Martin's call to complain, she got an apology, and her children were let back into school, according to Briggs Gamblin, communications director for the Boulder Valley School District.

The school district now has a comprehensive guide developed in consultation with public health experts on swine flu suspicions in school: Monitor your health if you've been traveling in a high-risk area, and quarantine your family if you show symptoms, especially a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

"There's been an apology," said Gamblin. "It was an overreaction and it was made with the best of intentions."

Over about a week, the world saw some examples of possible knee-jerk reactions to reports about swine flu. People have upset their annual school exams, vacations and more over a virus that a recent Harvard School of Public Health Poll shows the public doesn't completely understand.

The Harvard poll showed 83 percent correctly said you can get swine flu from close contact with someone else who has it. But 34 percent of people incorrectly thought you could get the flu by coming in contact with pigs, 29 percent incorrectly thought you could get the flu from an infected person who's more than 30 feet away and 13 percent incorrectly thought you could get it from eating pork.

The Web site for elementary schools, individuals and doctors who suspect swine flu lurking about.

But among the estimated 46 percent of Americans who are concerned about getting the swine flu, some have gone farther than others in their caution.

The following is a list of some questionable swine flu reactions so far.

Swine Flu Sniffles Divert an International Flight

A woman's flu-like symptoms diverted an international flight from Germany to Washington, D.C., early Friday afternoon, according to reports by the Associated Press.

United Airlines Flight 903, with 245 passengers, changed course from Washington Dulles International Airport and landed at Boston's Logan Airport to let off the 53-year-old passenger.

United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said the pilot landed in Boston on the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However the CDC's own guidelines just recommend contacting "the nearest U.S. Quarantine Station and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the destination airport," not diverting a flight -- and the CDC lists a quarantine station near Washington.

After an ambulance and police escorted the woman off the runway, the plane continued the hour-long flight to Washington, D.C.

"I think the hour would not have made a big difference, but that's a judgment call," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

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