George Mason Law School

First H1N1 case appears at the College

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September 15, 2009

2:44 AM

The College of William and Mary reported its first case of swine flu Friday at 4 p.m. Officials at the Student Health Center notified the College that a student contracted the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu.

The student, whose identity was not released, is currently recovering at their private residence.
Since Friday, the College’s plan for containing the H1N1 virus has remained the same.

“We are very comfortable with our plan, which is self-isolation and continuing to educate people,” Student Health Center Director Dr. Virginia D. Wells said.

Students with the virus are encouraged to recover at home and avoid public places until they have not experienced flu symptoms for at least 24 hours. They are also encouraged to contact their professors to keep up with coursework.

Without a vaccination, information is the greatest preventive measure the College can offer. Campus posters with basic hygiene tips, along with a website dedicated to providing updates on the swine flu are available to students. The College has also provided more hand sanitizers in high-traffic locations on campus.

According to an online statement issued by the Vice President for Administration Anna Martin, the H1N1 vaccination is expected to be available by mid-October and will be given free of charge.

While students await the H1N1 shot, the Student Health Center has used seasonal flu vaccinations as an opportunity to prepare for the spread of H1N1. Last Wednesday, the health center handed out “flu packs” in the Sadler Center that included masks, bottles of hand sanitizer and information on preventing influenza. 811 students, faculty and administrators received the vaccination.

“The first step is to actually immunize people for seasonal flu, so when the H1N1 vaccine becomes available we will be ready to provide that vaccine,” Wells said. “We were very successful in our first campaign to get folks immunized against seasonal flu, so you start that as a springboard for educating people about hand washing and hand sanitizer.”

While most cases of the virus on college
campuses are mild, swine flu has created quite a stir at the College. Dave Stingle ’10 was one of the many students who received the vaccination.

“I arrived five minutes late and there already was a pretty long line there,” Stingle said. “Even though it can’t protect me from swine flu, at least it’s something.”

Many students are taking it upon themselves to avoid the virus by improving their hygiene.

“I think everyone at William and Mary is very aware of swine flu. The sanitizers are definitely out in full force,” Stingle said.

Three participants at a summer program hosted by the College were infected with swine flu in late June, but until Friday, the College was free of the pandemic during the academic year. Friday’s case is unlikely to be the last.

“We certainly expected to see the flu on campus,” College Spokesman Brian Whitson said via e-mail. “Like all universities, we’ll likely have more cases [of the flu]. That is why we have been preparing and why we want to continue to educate folks on campus about precautions.”

The virus has hit campuses hard across the nation, particularly in the Washington, DC area.

The University of Maryland has reported 435 cases of flu-like illness, while the University of Virginia has logged 95. According to the American College Health Association, 72 percent of schools have reported influenza-like illness as of Sept. 4. The Center for Disease Control has announced that 98 percent of newly reported flu cases are H1N1.

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