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SALT LAKE CITY -- The swine flu has claimed three lives in Utah in the past week, and health experts expect the number of cases to increase - perhaps even a lot - in the coming weeks.
Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko says in the past week there were deaths in Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. All the victims were women.
The woman in the Weber County case was between the ages of 40 and 64. The Salt Lake County victim was over the age of 65. In Utah County, the victim was between the ages of 18 and 39.
Hudachko says 41 people were hospitalized in the past week, increasing the total to 127 since Sept. 1. A school in Emery County - Cleveland Elementary - has been closed until at least Monday after roughly 40 percent of the student body called in sick.
"The fact that we're seeing the disease as widespread as we are throughout the state right now in early October is unusual for this time of year," Hudachko said.
Compounding the problem is the trickle of arriving swine flu vaccine doses. At-risk groups like children and pregnant women are getting first dibs.
"[The vaccine] will become more widespread. It will become more available," Hudachko said. "Certainly we're just asking people to be patient until we are able to get our hands on more vaccine."
Doctors, meanwhile, are warning people to wash hands frequently and prepare their homes for possible extended stays.