UMCP has outbreak of flu cases
139 students sick with suspected H1N1 virus
The University of Maryland, College Park is dealing with 139 flu cases, an unusual late-summer outbreak that is probably the H1N1 virus, campus officials say.
Though the campus health center is not testing for the virus, the number of students showing flu symptoms is radically higher than usual for the beginning of the fall semester.
"Oh yes, we usually don't see cases of students showing flu symptoms until December and February," said Linda Clement, vice president for student affairs. "We're not testing, but we're just assuming that any student who shows up with symptoms is suspicious for H1N1."
Symptoms continue to be mild, no worse than the seasonal flu, and most students seem to feel better after two or three days, Clement said.
Campuses around the country are reporting unusual outbreaks of flu. According to a survey released by the American College Health Association, about 54 percent of 189 colleges polled reported flu cases for the week of Aug. 22-28.
In this area, University of Maryland, Baltimore County says it has seen about 10 flu cases, all of which are mild, and Towson University has two confirmed cases. Johns Hopkins University identified its first case of H1N1 last Wednesday, said spokesman Dennis O'Shea.
At College Park, sick students are advised to go to their family homes if possible (more than 70 percent of UMCP students live in-state) and if not, to isolate themselves in their dorm rooms or apartments (friends can bring meals). Students should remain isolated until they go 24 hours symptom-free without the help of medication, Clement said.
Professors have spent the first week of the semester advising students not to come to class if they have the flu. Sick students are also asked to avoid the library and dining halls.
Clement said that based on anecdotal reports, students seem to be following the health center's instructions.
At College Park, Clement said students started showing up with flu symptoms the first day they arrived for the fall semester and have poured into the health center at a rate of 25 per day ever since. With a vaccine still at least a month from being distributed, university officials expect the flow of cases to continue for some time.
"I think this was fully predicted," Clement said. "We're having to get all hands on deck to focus on this issue, but we spent a lot of time planning for this."http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/educat ... 7559.story