Maryland health officials have received kits from the federal government to confirm swine flu cases in the state, officials said Sunday.
But it may take a day or two before they can start doing their own tests of the state's 15 probable cases, according to David Paulson, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Officials must "run confirmation tests" with the kits sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. he said.
A backlog at a CDC swine-flu testing laboratory in Atlanta had kept Maryland's cases from being confirmed. On Sunday, Pennsylvania officials confirmed that state's first case of the swine flu, also called the H1N1 virus.
While the number of suspected Maryland cases remained unchanged, the verified cases throughout the country have climbed to 226 in 30 states - including the death of a toddler in Texas, according to the CDC. Thirty have been hospitalized, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's interim deputy director for science and public health.
Confirmed cases of the new strain of influenza have been reported in at least 17 countries as of Sunday, according to the World Health Organization. Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, had 506 such cases, the organization said. The seasonal flu kills an average of 36,000 Americans each year.
Five Maryland schools have been closed because of probable cases: Folger McKinsey Elementary in Anne Arundel County, Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore County, Rockville High in Montgomery County and Montpelier and University Park elementaries in Prince George's County.
State health officials announced Saturday that a second student at Folger McKinsey in Severna Park likely also has the swine flu - one of four new probable cases, which also include adults in Harford and Anne Arundel counties and a teacher at University Park. The student appears to have caught it riding the school bus with a 7-year-old boy whose suspected case led to Folger McKinsey's closing.
Officials said that school and Milford Mill are expected to remain closed at least until Thursday. The Prince George's elementaries will be closed, starting Monday, for 14 days, according to county health officials.