‘Diligent High School Nurse’ Instrumental in Discovery of Swine Flu Outbreak

Photo from otisarchives4, via Flickr.

Photo from otisarchives4, via Flickr.

The New York Times reports this morning that a school nurse at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens was the first link in what appears to have been a chain of nurses involved in alerting public health officials to the outbreak of swine flu in New York City. Anemona Hartocollis writes:

“The detective story involving St. Francis began with a school nurse, who called the city’s school health nurse on Thursday to report about 75 students with symptoms including upset stomach, nausea and fever. The city nurse was struck by the number of cases and consulted her medical director, who told her to alert the nurse at the Bureau of Communicable Disease, officials said.”

The astuteness of these nurses has no doubt aided public health officials in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to keep track of the outbreak and organize a response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are also tracking national and international trends as infections with influenza A (H1N1)–as the swine flu is known–emerge.

At noon today, CNN reported that the WHO has confirmed 40 cases of H1N1 infection in the United States, 26 in Mexico, six in Canada, and one in Spain.

–Joy Jacobson, AJN managing editor

And here are some of our more recent posts related to the H1N1 infection (swine flu):
“Swine Flu Prevention: Is It Time to Kill the Common Handshake?”
AJN Interviews School Nurse Who Alerted CDC to Outbreak

“CDC Guidance for Nurses on the Swine Flu”
“A Random Friday Sample of Feverish and Flu-Related Opinion”

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2016-11-21T13:32:55+00:00 April 27th, 2009|Nursing|3 Comments

About the Author:

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Kathryn Hoyman April 30, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Kudos to the nurse(s).
    I hate to be overly sensitive to language and I’m not sure where the descriptor “diligent” was added (NY Times or AJN) But it is worthy of mention that noting a cluster of cases can be thought of as an intellectual act as well as just an act of duty diligently carried out.

  2. nurseandlawyer April 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    In fact the Times article has identified the school nurse as Mary Pappas in their article published on Tuesday.

    Good for her — as we pointed out on our blog, nurseandlawyer.wordpress.com , school nurses are often overlooked, but have an important public health role!

  3. Barbara Glickstein April 27, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    What the NY Times didn’t do is identify this “school nurse” by name or the nurse at the NYC DOH who she reported the 75 cases of sick students to. The question I want the reporter to answer is why not? Did the nurses ask to remain anonymous? Were they told by their employers not to identify themselves? or is this a case of nurses being invisible in the media? Curious.

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