School children (illustrative)
School children (illustrative) Israel news photo: (file)

A Tel Aviv elementary school has been closed due to an outbreak of influenza, although it is not clear which strain of the virus attacked the children and staff.

On Monday, 140 of the 180 students at the Ussishkin School did not come to class because they were sick with the flu. Only one, however, reported symptoms of the H1N1 swine flu virus.

According to the Health Ministry, medical directors reported 130 new cases of the H1N1 virus last week. However, the ministry released a statement saying there is no need for panic, and that the situation is under control. Most people who contract the virus experience mild symptoms similar to the standard flu, and recover within a few days.

Since the H1N1 virus made its appearance in April, more than 4,300 Israels have become ill with the disease. At least nine people infected with swine flu are listed in serious or critical condition in the intensive care units of various hospitals around the country.

Although 34 deaths have officially been linked  to the virus so far, only two have been clearly caused by the H1N1 influenza strain. The others all had underlying medical conditions that seriously weakened their ability to fight the illness.