Church’s youth choir falls ill; swine flu suspected

At least 30 children in a Plano church’s youth choir group on a bus trip to Colorado have fallen ill, perhaps stricken from the swine flu.

Many members of Grace Presbyterian Church youth choir started complaining of shortness of breath and fevers in the last few days as the group neared the end of its eight-day trip through several states. The group made a scheduled stop Wednesday in Colorado Springs, where chaperones contacted county health officials.

“We are evaluating several of the ill individuals, and they are being tested for H1N1 influenza (swine flu),” said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, the medical director of the El Paso County, Colo. Department of Health and Environment. “The illnesses would meet the qualifications of an outbreak.”

Although test results aren’t completed yet, health officials believe the virus is the swine flu.

Colorado health officials suspect one or more choir members contracted the virus in Texas before the trip began last Friday. The group of 70 children, ranging from sixth graders through 12th graders, rode on two buses through the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and then arrived in Colorado.

Albanese said the virus likely spread quickly through both of the buses. However, the children, some of whom are suffering from sore throats, headaches and excessive coughing, haven’t been hospitalized.

Some of the children who are healthy have returned to Plano, and the rest of the trip has been canceled. More details when we have them…

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