Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in Henry County has suspended all classes for 14 days, though no other students are displaying symptoms of the potentially fatal H1N1 virus, said Dr. Elizabeth Ford, head of the state's Division of Public Health.
A group of the ill student's classmates returned from a trip to Panama in mid-April, Ford said during a news conference. The ill student did not go on the trip, she said. There have been no confirmed cases of swine flu in Panama, and health officials said they did not know if the student's illness was related to their trip. None of the students who went on the trip have shown symptoms of illness.
The state received the confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday, Ford said.
"We understand this could place a tremendous strain on your family as you cope with childcare and career issues," academy President Tim Dowdy wrote in a statement to parents on the school's Web site. "I want to stress that the CDC recommended school closure as a preventative measure against the potential spread of H1N1."
Dowdy did not return several calls for comment.
This is the second confirmed case of swine flu in Georgia. A 30-year-old Kentucky woman was hospitalized in LaGrange while attending a wedding. The woman, who had traveled to Mexico, is in stable condition, Ford said.
Of the two confirmed cases detected in Georgia, only the woman required hospitalization. The CDC considers her a Kentucky case even though she was hospitalized in Georgia.
"It says we're very fortunate," Ford said about the mildness of the swine flu virus in Georgia so far.
The state has sent three more possible swine flu cases to the CDC for testing: a 3-year-old boy from Cobb County, a 36-year-old pregnant woman from DeKalb County and an 8-year-old girl from Clayton County, Ford said. The boy had contact with a person who had traveled to Mexico, and the girl was enrolled in school in Mexico until recently, Ford said.
Health officials are unsure why the 36-year-old got sick.
Ford said the state has received a kit from federal authorities that will enable up to 750 tests for swine flu, and state officials will begin performing tests soon. It could cut down by several days the time it takes to diagnose an ill patient, she said.
The 14-year-old Eagle's Landing student is feeling better and has taken anti-viral drugs, though he is still considered contagious, Ford said. He's been out of school since last Tuesday.
The student's 12-year-old sister also displayed mild flu symptoms but she was not tested because she is past the seven-day period where a person is considered contagious, said Susan Lance, director of protection and safety for the state Division of Public Health. She said it's possible the girl had swine flu, but a test wouldn't pick up the virus any longer.
The 1,200-student academy is the first school in Georgia to close because of the swine flu outbreak.
At least 533 schools enrolling about 334,000 children had closed across the country as of Monday because of the outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The schools are in about two dozen states.
An entire school district west of Detroit closed after a high school student came down with an apparent case of the illness. All 140 schools in the Fort Worth (Texas) Independent School District have closed until May 8. The system serves 80,000 students.
The outbreak hasn't touched the majority of the nation's 132,000 schools, but a few have been hit heavily by the illness. One New York City high school had 45 students with confirmed cases of swine flu.
At least 274 cases of swine flu virus have been confirmed in 35 states so far in the United States, a count by The Associated Press shows. The most recent CDC count was 226 cases in 30 states. The discrepancy can be attributed at least in part to a time lag in state reporting to the federal agency. And in some instances, states have identified "probable" cases that were not confirmed subsequently.
Worldwide, at least 1,226 people have been sickened by swine flu. More than half of those were in Mexico.