Flu Outbreak Continues to Grow at San Diego Migrant Shelter

There is an outbreak of flu at the San Diego migrant shelter located in a former county building in downtown San Diego.

On Thursday, officials confirmed that 234 people have had flu-like symptoms since May 19. That number has grown from the 16 cases reported on May 23.

"That constitutes an outbreak of flu in a congregate care setting like a shelter or a skilled nursing facility," said Dean Sidelinger, Deputy Public Health Officer for the County of San Diego.

Most of those suffering from influenza are children with ages ranging from 5 years old to adult.

Sidelinger said the people who are identified as suffering from the flu are removed from the shelter and placed in a hotel with their families, so they can be cared for by public health nurses and community partners.

Health officials confirmed that 2 families -- or 4 migrants -- were quarantined at hotels as of Thursday. The highest number of migrants quarantined since May 19 is 11.

"We know diseases like the flu can be spread very easily in settings with close contact - shelters, particularly large shelters where individuals are sharing the space," Sidelinger said.

The migrants in the downtown shelter include those that have been transferred to San Diego from Texas where the flu strain of Influenza A H1N1 has been circulating.

The asylum seekers from Texas have been arriving to San Diego since May 19.

“Our early efforts to create a safe and professionally-staffed shelter for legal migrant families has protected the greater San Diego region,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “Our rigorous screening process and attentive medical staff is what has allowed us to quickly identify this issue and take steps to address it.”

Sidelinger said specimens had been taken from the individuals in San Diego and are being processed to determine the type of flu. It can take up to four days after exposure for flu signs to appear.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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