ST. PETERSBURG — One of the first orders Ginny Cannon received from a Pinellas County Health Department nurse when calling to report a case of swine flu at her day care center Monday was "stay calm."
A child attending A Ginny's Little Giants, which can accommodate 96 children, was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, on Monday. Another child who had been attending a camp at Gladden Park also tested positive this week, said health department spokeswoman Jeannine Mallory.
The "stay calm" mandate appeared to be holding through the staff and parents at Ginny's, at 8600 Fourth St. N, Tuesday morning despite the presence of a television truck in the parking lot. Attendance appeared "almost 100 percent," said Cannon, the center's owner and corporate director.
The center in St. Petersburg might be an example of how much the community is educating itself about a disease that in recent months panicked people all over the world as a potentially catastrophic pandemic.
"We had some parents that were wide-eyed," Cannon said. "We had some staff call to see if we would be open, but it's otherwise been pretty good."
Cannon said that a few parents removed their children to take a flu test and returned them later.
Parents and staffers were contacted about the case Monday, and bulletins were posted at each entryway. Parent Olga Pagan said she was not concerned for the health of her two boys at the center.
"I think (the national swine flu scare) has kind of been exaggerated out," she said.
Cannon said she was advised by the health department that cleanliness and hygiene were key in preventing the spread of the flu, which has killed more than 700 worldwide since April, according to the World Health Organization. Cannon produced a report from the county day care licensing authority that found her center compliant with all codes.
Another case was diagnosed at a Tarpon Springs day care last week, but that child has returned to the facility. Pinellas officials have confirmed 58 cases of swine flu since April.
The Pinellas County Health Department has issued the following fact sheet about swine flu in day care and camp settings:
• There is no need to keep a healthy child at home if one child in the classroom has H1N1 flu and is at home recuperating.
• Monitor your child and family members for flulike symptoms, including cough, fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. If these symptoms develop, stay home for seven days after the start of symptoms or 24 hours after symptoms end to prevent spread of the illness and call your health care provider.
• Have arrangements in place to stay home with your child, or have someone on "standby" who can stay with your child, for at least seven days.