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Texans not worried about Rams' swine flu outbreak


The St. Louis Rams, the Texans' Week 15 opponent, cancelled their Thursday practice due to an undisclosed number of swine flu cases on the team.

According to the Rams' website, Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said that about five or six players, including quarterback Kyle Boller and center Jason Brown, have symptoms of the H1N1 virus.

The Texans had a swine flu scare of their own in early October. Rookie tight end Anthony Hill was the only Texans player with a confirmed case of the virus, but safety Eugene Wilson missed the Oct. 4 game versus Oakland with flu-like symptoms and other players missed practice.

"You try to get through it, but that's tough," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "We were going through some of that earlier in the year. I think there are a lot of teams that have been through that this year."

When the swine flu passed through the Texans' locker room, the team's medical and athletic training staffs took preventative measures to minimize the risk to players. Players with flu-like symptoms were isolated, held out of practice, given treatment and sent home.

Players and other Texans employees also were reminded to take basic steps such as washing their hands and using hand sanitizer lotion. The Rams appear to be taking similar precautions.

Texans head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan met with the media on Thursday, describing H1N1 as an airborne pathogen.

"The way it spreads is coughing on each other and sneezing on each other," Kaplan said. "It is very hard to prevent in an arena of football or other athletics. It's really hard to do anything during a game to prevent it."

Still, Kaplan said that he's "not worried much at all" about the swine flu posing a threat to Texans players on Sunday.

"Every other year, we've had issues with other types of flu and players play with flu," he said. "H1N1 is a very new deal going on here in the country and new to athletics, so everybody is just taking a little extra precaution."

Echoing Kaplan's sentiment, the majority of Texans players said they don't think they'll have to take extra precautions during Sunday's game at the RCA Dome.

"We're just focusing on ourselves," rookie linebacker Brian Cushing said. "That's all we're in control of. We'll worry about the 53 guys in here and try to have the best game plan possible come Sunday."

Assuming the Rams' players get healthy in time for Sunday, perhaps the most significant effect of their bout with the swine flu might be that they had to cancel a practice. Thursday is a major work day for most NFL teams.

Spagnuolo expects his players to make up for the lost reps with an extended practice on Friday.

"I've never been a part of it personally," Texans quarterback Matt Schaub said of having a Thursday practice cancelled. "That's a decision that they made, and all we can do is get ready for the game ourselves and prepare ourselves as best we can to go play well."

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