Officials with the Public Health Dept. reported a probable case of swine flu in Santa Barbara County yesterday.

According to health authorities, a 2-year-old girl in Santa Maria has contracted what is thought to be the H1N1 virus. Colloquially known as swine flu, the virus has sickened thousands since April and has sent health officials around the globe scurrying to contain it. A specimen from the child has been sent to a California state laboratory, which will identify the virus within the next few days.

According to Susan Klein-Rothschild, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept. assistant deputy director, this is the first time the county has encountered a possible case of swine flu.

“This is our first probable case in Santa Barbara County, and if it’s confirmed, it will be our first confirmed case,” Klein-Rothschild said. “The state will do testing in the next day or two… It’s highly likely that it will be confirmed.”

Despite the lack of confirmation of her exact ailment, the girl has already been treated and is currently recovering at home. She did not need to be hospitalized and her family has agreed to keep her away from the public for seven days.

Public Health officials say the girl may have contracted the H1N1 virus from contact with people involved with the Grizzly Youth Academy – a school for troubled youths run by the California National Guard – in San Luis Obispo County. Three Swine Flu cases were confirmed amongst Academy cadets earlier this month.

“This child is part of a family [that] has close connections with people who are involved and affiliated with the Grizzly Academy school,” Klein-Rothschild said.

Despite these speculations, Ann McDowell, an epidemiologist with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Dept., said the county has not yet confirmed any link between the Grizzly Youth Academy and the 2-year-old.

“So far we have not identified any ill persons that went between that family and the Grizzly Academy, but we are continuing to investigate at this time,” McDowell said.

Since surfacing in April, the H1N1 virus has sickened 5,251 people in 30 countries. In the United States alone, the Center for Disease Control has reported 3,009 American cases, along with three deaths. A total of 193 cases have been reported in California, including two in Ventura County and nine in San Luis Obispo County.