House pages treated for swine flu

Ten House pages were treated over the weekend for “flu-like symptoms” in a potential outbreak of swine flu, the House Office of the Clerk announced Monday.

All of the pages have been treated and are not in the hospital, though four other pages were treated for gastrointestinal issues over the weekend as well. Their parents were notified.

The Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) is not testing for swine flu but is treating all flu-like symptoms as an H1N1 outbreak. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that Capitol officials treat flu symptoms as H1N1.

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The House has 63 teenage pages who assist the House with duties such as delivering messages to members while on the House floor. The pages are supervised by the Office of the Clerk, which said that it will provide the pages with H1N1 vaccines if their parents approve.
 
“We’ve been working closely with the Office of the Attending Physician to ensure the health of the affected pages and we are taking every precaution to minimize additional illness,” said Maria A. Lopez, deputy clerk for the page program, in a statement.
 
In July, four House pages were also treated for flu-like symptoms, but officials did not say whether the illness was in fact swine flu.
 
So far, no lawmakers have reported contracting the swine flu, though on Monday the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rep. Melissa Bean’s (D-Ill.) 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the virus, causing her to cancel a swine-flu prevention event in a Chicago suburb.
 
Though no arrival date has been released, the OAP has stressed in recent weeks that every lawmaker and staffer who wants the swine flu vaccine will eventually be able to get it once it arrives on Capitol Hill over the next couple weeks.
 
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Immunization was one of many preventive tips that a staff physician with the OAP gave to a room of about 50 staffers and Capitol Hill employees on Friday, adding that if they do fall ill with flu-like symptoms, the Capitol Police can’t force them to leave work, but they should go home.
 
Physicians with the OAP said the office will be strictly adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC, which stipulates that women, children under 5 years old, health professionals, and people with pre-existing medical conditions or immune-deficiency diseases will take priority in getting treatment and immunizations.
 
Members of Congress will not receive preferential treatment because of their congressional status, but because many lawmakers have medical conditions they may be considered to be high-risk, said an OAP physician earlier this month.