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Students isolated for flu-like symptoms on campus

BY STEPHANIE STEINBERG AND LARA ZADE
Daily News Editors
Published July 12, 2009

Correction appended: An earlier version of this article stated that the Centers for Disease Control recommends that patients who are not in high-risk groups be given Tamiflu. The CDC does not recommend giving Tamiflu to patients who are not high-risk.

Last week, about a dozen students attending the University’s Summer Discovery Program were treated for a flu-like illness, possibly Novel influenza A (H1N1) — formerly known as swine flu.

The students were all from high schools in various parts of the country and abroad. None were from Ann Arbor.

According to the Summer Discovery Program’s Web site, the students were housed in Alice Lloyd Hall.

Upon coming down with flu-like symptoms, the students were treated at the University Health Service. They were then isolated for seven days in one hallway of a residence hall on campus that is currently unoccupied by other students. University Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald could not confirm in which dormitory the quarantined students were held.

The students were also given Tamiflu, even though the Centers for Disease Control only recommends Tamiflu for high-risk patients like children under age five, people over age 65 and pregnant women.

In addition, the dining service delivered meals to the sick students so they did not have to integrate with campers and students who were not ill.

The students were not tested for H1N1 because the state is only issuing tests for high-risk patients.

According to the CDC, as of July 10, 2009 there were 489 confirmed and probable cases of H1N1 and eight deaths due to H1N1 influenza in Michigan.

In a University press release, Robert Winfield, the director of UHS and chief health officer for the University, wrote that severely ill patients with the flu in Michigan are being treated at the University’s Medical Center.

“The availability of specialized equipment and advanced-care treatments put our hospitals at the forefront of caring for complicated H1N1 influenza cases,” he wrote. “Because of this, our colleagues in the Health System have been bearing substantial stress when called upon to care for these very ill individuals.”

Fitzgerald said that some of the students have already recovered and have returned to complete the Summer Discovery Program, which is a program intended to introduce high school students to college life that lasts either three or six weeks.

Fitzgerald added that it’s difficult to determine if this was the first possible case of H1N1 on campus because there have been no high-risk patients with flu-like symptoms that have merited testing for H1N1.

Winfield wrote that the University expects to see more cases of the virus appear on campus in the near future.

“We have every reason to believe there will be more cases diagnosed in the region — and, by extension, on the three U-M campuses — during the coming months as we head into the normal flu season this fall and winter,” he wrote.

Winfield added that symptoms of H1N1 are similar to those of the normal seasonal flu.

“The difference now is that this is a new virus, for which we have no inherent immunity or vaccine,” he wrote. “Still, it is important to neither over-react nor under-react to the situation.”

According to the press release, students, staff and faculty on campus are advised to take proper precautions by washing hands regularly with soap and water, avoid directly touching the nose and eyes and covering the mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing.