The swine flu virus that has infected people around the world has now been tied to the death of an assistant principal at a public school in New York City, the New York Times reports. The news has caused the city to shut down five additional schools, bringing the total number of schools closed there to 15 since the virus was first identified in April.
Mitchell Wiener, a 30-year veteran of the New York public school system, died of complications from swine flu on Sunday, five days after checking into a hospital and three days after his school, Intermediate 238 in Hollins, Queens, was closed down by health authorities. At least four other deaths in the United States have been linked to the swine flu virus.
Public-health officials are trying to keep New Yorkers, especially parents, from panicking. "Nothing we've seen so far suggests that it's more dangerous to someone who gets it than the flu that comes every year. We should not forget that the flu that comes every year kills about 1,000 New Yorkers," Thomas Frieden, the city's health commissioner, told the Times.
Officials say they cannot stop the spread of the flu. But they are urging people with underlying health problems to take extra precautions. Wiener had a history of medical problems, which might have put him at greater risk, according to health officials.