A judge and the sheriff are defending a decision to empty a Cleveland courtroom and disinfect it when a woman claimed she had the H1N1 virus.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo says the woman, who came to a hearing Thursday wearing a face mask, told a bailiff she was sick. Sheriff's deputies summoned cleaning staff.

Signs on the courtroom doors warned of a "swine flu scare."

Russo says he doesn't know if the woman really had swine flu but says the court must be kept a "safe environment." Sheriff Bob Jones says protocols for dealing with infectious diseases were followed.

Cleveland health director Matt Carroll says he would have opposed disinfecting the court. He says frequent hand-washing is more effective against swine flu.