Brooklyn Yeshiva Closes Due to Swine Flu

For the first time, a Brooklyn yeshiva has closed due to the spread of the swine flu virus.

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Hana Levi Julian,

Swine flu virus
Swine flu virus
Israel News Photo: (Wikimedia Commons)

The first yeshiva in Brooklyn to close its doors due to the swine flu has told parents that two children in its student body have been diagnosed with the illness.

The administration of Magen David Yeshiva, flagship yeshiva of the Syrian Jewish community of Brooklyn, New York, decided late last week to temporarily close its doors in order to contain the spread of the swine flu virus.

In a private email sent to parents, school administrators said the elementary and high school divisions of the Magen David Yeshiva in the Flatbush neighborhood would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday as a preventive measure.

Two students, one in each division, were diagnosed with H1N1 virus, high school principal Richard Altabe and elementary division principal Rabbi Dr. Baruch Hilsenrath told parents in the May 22 email obtained by Yeshiva World News.

No other yeshivas have closed as a result of the infection, although more than a dozen public schools have been forced to close in New York, including the large P.S. 160 elementary school located on Ft. Hamilton Parkway in the Boro Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Eighth Case Diagnosed in Israel
New cases of the virus continue to be diagnosed in Israel as well.

A 24-year-old man was diagnosed with the swine flu on Saturday, becoming the eighth person in the Jewish State to come down with the virus. He had recently returned from the United States, and was presumed to have contracted the illness there.

A second man had also been hospitalized due to concerns that he may have the virus as well.

Thousands Infected Worldwide
According to the World Health Organization, 43 countries have officially reported 12,022 laboratory-confirmed cases of the A(H1N1) infection, including 86 deaths.

Local health officials reported Sunday that 18 U.S. soldiers were confirmed as having been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus in Kuwait. The soldiers were allegedly in transit from one location to another, and it was not clear where they were coming from, or what their final destination was to meant be.

In the United States, nine people have died and 6,552 others have been diagnosed with the infection since April, when the pandemic emerged in neighboring Mexico. Among the American victims was 55-year-old Mitchell Weiner, the Jewish vice principal of a public high school in Queens, New York, the hardest-hit area of the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a PCR diagnostic test kit to detect the virus and has now distributed test kits to all states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

According to the CDC  website, the new test kits are being shipped internationally as well. "This will allow states and other countries to test for this new virus," the CDC said in a statement, but cautioned that the increase in testing "will likely result in an increase in the number of confirmed cases of illness reported."

Mexico, the epicenter of the pandemic, reported 3,892 cases of the infection, with 75 deaths. Canada, also in North America, was the next hardest-hit, reporting 719 confirmed cases, and one death.

Countries on every continent have been affected, including Japan, which has reported 321 cases, the United Kingdom, with 117 cases, Spain, 126 cases, and Panama with 76 cases.