Parents speak out on H1N1 outbreak

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Ever since last week when a Chicago Public Schools student was hospitalized for H1N1 flu symptoms, many parents said they have been on edge and fearful for their children.

Ever since last week when a Chicago Public Schools student was hospitalized for H1N1 flu symptoms, many parents said they have been on edge and fearful for their children.

“I don’t want my daughter catching anything especially if it can be deadly,” said Jasmine Baker, 45, whose daughter attends William J. Bogan High School, 3939 W. 79th St.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has traced the H1N1 flu (also referred to as swine flu) outbreak to Mexico. For that reason, some parents said schools with a large Hispanic population are being unfairly targeted.

“Just because a school has a lot of Hispanic students does not mean swine flu is likely to show up there,” said Octavia Brass, 41, whose daughter is a junior at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western Ave.

“Our kids don’t have anything to do with the swine flu. Blaming Hispanics for this outbreak is nothing short of racism,” said Mario Mendez, 34, whose four daughters attend Marquette elementary school, 6550 S. Richmond, on the Southwest Side.

Health experts say everyone is at risk.

“Swine flu does not care what color you are, what your gender may be or your economic status. We are possible candidates to contract it,” said Dr. Terry Mason, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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In photo: (from left) Mayor Richard Daley; Governor Pat Quinn; Ron Huberman, CEO of Chicago Public Schools; Ill. Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Damon Arnold, M.D., and Terry Mason, M.D., commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, met on April 29 at a news conference to discuss the swine flu outbreak.

Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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