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Swine Flu Spreading At Colleges

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
September 15, 2009

Colleges and universities are reporting the continuing spread of H1N1 influenza--known as swine flu--although the vast majority of the cases are mild.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the American College Health Association found 4,045 new cases of presumed swine flu at 149 of the 204 schools, bringing the total number for the first two weeks of the survey to 6,043 cases. The highest rates of activity were in the Southeast and Midwest.

On Thursday last week, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the association had issued revised data, indicating 4,974 cases, including eight hospitalizations.

The Washington Post reports that there were 435 cases at the University of Maryland, 95 at the University of Virginia and several dozen more at other schools. Meanwhile, according to the Daily Evergreen, Washington State University's student newspaper, more than 2,000 students have reported flulike illness.

In New York, Cornell University reported more than 520 cases, and a junior died last week of flu complications. A week earlier, a freshman at Troy University in Alabama died of the illness as well.

"I think we all predicted this would happen," said Linda Clement, vice president for student affairs at U-Md, about the spread of the virus. "It's a surprise in terms of the severity at some places."

The New York Times reports that at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, infected students are, when possible, sent home to recuperate. Other ill students are isolating themselves while their roommates find temporary housing. So far, 13 students have come down with the flu out of 2,600 enrolled students.

"It's an unpredictable situation, and we are ready to deal with whatever comes up," said Joyce L. Maglione, Ph.D., APN, director of health at the university.

At some schools, quarantines have become bonding experiences. Recently, The New York Times reported on "Club Swine" at Emory University in Atlanta, where isolated students "receive free meals, do not attend class, and travel to the pharmacy in a van they call the Flying Pig. Linens are changed daily. A staff member brings grocery bags of Tami flu, granola, sports drinks, soup and thermometers. The goal is preventing the infected from sniffling and hacking their way into an epidemic."

But all agree that the illness is not fun. Mark Gonzalez, a junior at U-Md, described his terrible cough and high fever to the Post. "It had to be 10 times worse than the regular flu," he said. "It was not pleasant at all."

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