CLINTON — From the White House to California and even possibly to Clinton County, the H1N1 (swine flu) is spreading and the World Health Organization warns that the worst may not be over.

So far, though, the disease hasn’t hit the United States with the same ferocity as in Mexico, where the suspected death toll reads 160 and many more patients have been hospitalized. In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control confirmed 109 cases and states confirmed another 22 on Thursday.

The state of Iowa has yet to confirm any cases, while Illinois has 41 probable cases. A California man traveling through Clinton and Scott counties last week is probable for H1N1, but nothing has been verified, Clinton County Health Community Health Manager Michelle Cullen said. A possible third case has been detected in Iowa.

Because of the increased caseload across the county, the amount of time to receive test results has increased, Cullen said. Cullen said the man with probable H1N1 did not visit any “high risk” areas that could contaminate large groups of people.

The threat of H1N1 has the Clinton School District on a heightened awareness level. Superintendent Richard Basden said he forwarded information from the health department to each building, gave fliers to each student to take home and provided several hand sanitizers.

“Mainly we’re increasing our general awareness,” Basden said. “We’ve had no increased sickness, and we have a nurse available in every school and we have a designated individual to answer questions from parents.”

Other diseases like measles and chicken pox have crept up in Basden’s career, but he’s never dealt with anything being called a “pandemic.”

“We have to make things available for students and be aware,” Basden said. “This time of year, it’s not unusual for students to have illness or other kinds of symptoms. At this point, we’re very attune to the youngsters in the building.”

Basden said he’s talked to other superintendents in Iowa and Illinois, and they’ve shared information regarding what’s best for school districts.

Nearly 300 schools closed Thursday based on H1N1 fears, and high school sports were sidelined in the state of Texas until May 11.

There isn’t one definitive answer for the best way to deal with this situation, Basden said.

“When working with a pandemic, we work with the health department and receive information from them,” Basden said. “There’s no one cookie cutter right way with these situations.”

From the city’s standpoint, City Administrator Gary Boden said if the situation escalates, the city would rely upon county and state public health officials for information.

Currently, the Iowa Department of Public Health will focus on education and heightened surveillance.

“We know what’s going on in each county,” Cullen said.

“Both emergency departments are keeping track of respiratory patients with flu-like patients and schools are looking at absentee rates. Those are two measures that we have in place.”

Top government officials provided insight into the best remedy to avoid H1N1during a Webcast Thursday.

Acting chief of the CDC Dr. Richard Besser said washing your hands, and making sure it was long enough to avoid getting germs, would be the most effective deterrent.

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