Four cases of swine flu confirmed on campus
State health officials have confirmed four cases of swine flu in the campus community, the University announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon. Three graduate students and one adult graduate dependent each tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
The four individuals first contacted University Health Services (UHS) early in the week of May 25 and “remained in isolation” until they were no longer contagious. State health officials confirmed the test results in a phone call during the Commencement ceremonies this morning, University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 said in an interview.
The individuals were “mildly ill” when they were tested, the statement said, adding that the four have been treated with antiviral medication and are either recovering or have fully recovered.
“After we became aware they had the flu, they were in isolation,” Cliatt said. “Some remained at UHS, and one was not on campus, but self-isolated themselves by staying off-campus.”
There are currently no plans to limit visitors to campus or interrupt planned activities, the statement added, but it cautioned members of the community to “be aggressive in their vigilance of hygienic practices.”
“We’re taking a series of precautions,” Cliatt said. “As students come in [to UHS], they are being screened ... and if their symptoms warrant or are consistent with influenza A, they will be isolated to help prevent the spread.”
She added that, though UHS can treat the flu and most patients recover from it, often individuals are contagious before they recognize the symptoms and seek treatment.
“One important step that UHS took was sending the e-mail to all members of the campus community who could be identified as having a continuing presence through Commencement,” Cliatt said in an e-mail, noting that the announcement was also posted on the University’s website. “It’s the most effective way to try to make sure that individuals remaining on campus are aware of the steps they should take to monitor flu symptoms and to practice good hygiene to help prevent the spread of the illness,” she said.
Cliatt added that no immediate steps are being taken to identify where and how the four individuals may have caught the flu. “With the presence of H1N1 at various sites throughout New Jersey, and with confirmed cases at various sites in Mercer County, tracing the origin of infection is difficult,” she explained. “It’s a bit like trying to determine where you caught a cold.”
The announcement comes just one day after the New York City Department of Health announced the death of a fifth person with swine flu in the city. The disease has also been widespread in New Jersey, with more than 30 new cases confirmed in the last week of May alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified New Jersey as one of four states in which influenza activity is “widespread” as opposed to regional or local.