With the H1N1 swine flu outbreak spreading to areas as close as Livingston County, the University and the state of Michigan are taking necessary precautions to protect students.

As of Apr. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Michigan’s first case of swine flu in Livingston County. A second case in Ottawa County was confirmed a day later.

The two confirmed cases are part of a probable 47 cases of swine flu in the state of Michigan, according to Michigan officials.

As the flu spreads, state officials are recommending that schools facing probable cases of swine flu should be closed for a week.

All 24 schools in the nearby Plymouth-Canton district were closed yesterday and today, due to a suspected case of swine flu from a 16-year old high school student in the area.

On April 28, University administrators met and decided that all three of the University’s campuses would not permit any University-sponsored programs to travel to Mexico at this time.

Dr. Robert Winfield, chief health officer of the University and director of the University Health Service, said that all University programs bound for Mexico have been cancelled, including a University program set to leave the first week of May for Oaxaca, Mexico.

“We are strongly advising students, as is the CDC, to not go to Mexico at this time,” Winfield said.

According to the CDC, as of yesterday there were 279 confirmed cases of swine flu infection within the United States, including one death in Texas.

As of last Wednesday, the World Health Organization has classified swine flu as being in Phase 5. Phase 5 and 6 represent widespread human infection and are classified as pandemics.

Winfield said that, theoretically, the University could cancel programs in a high-risk situation and bring students back home. He said that the University brought back three students in China during the SARS epidemic in 2003, which had a 60 percent death rate.

But he added that, as of now, the World Health Organization is not advising any travel restrictions or closure of borders.

“We are past the tipping point of containing the flu,” he said.

There are currently three University students in Mexico, one of whom the University has not been able to contact. The other two have confirmed to the University that they are doing fine. None of the three students are on a University-sponsored program.

The incubation period for swine flu is seven days, which means that the students leaving Mexico could still develop the flu within a week.

“They could bring the disease back, and it could be mild for them, but it could be terrible for someone else,” Winfield said.

According to Winfield, the guidelines cite that if a person has returned from Mexico within seven days and has an upper respiratory infection, cough, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, muscle aches or a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she may have swine flu.

If a person suspects that he or she has been infected with swine flu, it is recommended that the individual stays home and avoids going out in public areas. If the person is very sick, then he or she should see a doctor for an evaluation.

There is no timeline as to when the University will reopen its sponsored programs in Mexico. The situation is being reviewed on a weekly basis.

“The situation is very fluid — it’s changing literally by the hour,” Winfield said.

— Managing News Editor Lara Zade contributed to this report.

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