Possible swine flu cases reported on campus

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June 29, 2009

4:22 PM

*Update, 3:07 p.m., June 30*: Students should not worry about the recent possible cases of H1N1, or swine flu, detected on the College of William and Mary campus, biology professor Mark Forsyth said.

“So far, it doesn’t appear to be much more deadly — if more deadly at all — than typical influenza viruses, what they call seasonal influenza viruses that circulate in the fall and winter,” he said Tuesday.

The virus, however, does seem to target unusual suspects: those in their 20s and 30s. It also appears to be more infectious than usual.

“The typical flu season has ended months before this. It’s difficult for influenza viruses to spread from person to person when humidity is high. So the fact that this virus is spreading from person to person might suggest to me that maybe this virus is more infectious than the typical influenza virus,” Forsyth said. “So it might not be more lethal, but it may actually be more infectious.”

Forsyth said students can best protect themselves from the virus through the usual recommended procedures, including avoiding contact with sick people and frequent handwashing.

The current virus is likely not the next major lethal influenza virus, Forsyth said, stressing that simple precautions are often sufficient preventative measures.

“While I’m curious about this virus and I have some concerns, I’m not panicking,” he said. “As I told the students in my class, as I was teaching microbiology and this broke, I’ll post on my website when it’s time to panic.”

*Update, 4:40 p.m., June 29*: The counselors had been on campus for three weeks, according to College spokesman Brian Whitson. The student had been on campus for the last week only. Whitson said the three are “recovering and feeling better.”

*4:30 p.m., June 29*: H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, appears to have hit the College of William and Mary campus, according to a message sent to students, faculty and staff Monday.

“We were notified last night that three visitors to the William and Mary campus have been treated for what appears to be symptoms of the H1N1 influenza,” Vice President for Administration Anna Martin said. “They have tested positive for ‘Type A’ influenza, which likely means they have H1N1.”

The infected visitors are two camp counselors and a student in a youth enrichment program hosted[1] by the College each summer for elementary and secondary students.

The three are at home resting, and no other participants exhibit symptoms of the disease.

“The College immediately undertook a number of steps to prevent the spread of the virus. The residence area in the Reves Center where the students and counselors were staying as well as a computer lab in Blow Hall were cleaned and disinfected,” she said. “The College’s medical staff remains in close contact with professionals from the Virginia Department of Health. We have been assured that the campus community is safe and that the camp sessions may continue. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

Symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, headaches, chills and fatigue.

To prevent transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing of it immediately, wash your hands frequently and avoid interacting with the sick.

_Check back with flathatnews.com for more information on this developing story._

fn1. _This sentence has been corrected. It mistakenly said the College ran the program. The program is only hosted by the College._

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