Swine flu confirmed at Notre Dame; student has recovered

by Dennis Brown

A case of North American Human Influenza A (H1N1) – swine flu – in a University of Notre Dame student was confirmed Tuesday (April 28) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The student has fully recovered and is in good health after suffering flu symptoms and becoming ill last week.

The student sought treatment April 22 at the University’s student health center in Saint Liam Hall. As a part of the center’s standard protocol, a culture sample was taken from the student and sent to the Indiana State Department of Health in Indianapolis for analysis. The University was informed on April 24 that the sample was atypical for Influenza A, which could indicate that it was swine flu. The culture was then sent to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmation. The University and the health department were in constant communication until confirmation was determined today.

After receiving confirmation of the positive test result, staff and medical personnel in University Health Services followed CDC protocol by contacting and interviewing the affected student. Health services staff members are collaborating with local and state public health officials to identify the student’s close contacts. University Health Services physicians cannot identify at this time where the transmission to the student occurred.

According to the CDC, this new flu strain has symptoms in humans similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever, sore throat, cough, chills, headache and body aches. About 65 cases have been reported in the United States and all have been mild or the patients have recovered, the CDC reported. Health experts say young, healthy adults, such as the student population at Notre Dame, are at low risk for severe complications. University Health Services officials said they are not aware of any active swine flu cases on campus.

Students who experience flu symptoms such as sudden onset of fever above 100 degrees, cough or sore throat should come to University Health Services for evaluation. Faculty and staff should consult their personal physicians.

Notre Dame’s University Health Services is a formal participant in the CDC surveillance program for identifying strains of influenza, and works in collaboration with local and federal health organizations in this regard on a routine basis.

University classes and final exams will continue as scheduled.

Information on swine flu is available on the University Health Services Web site at http://uhs.nd.edu/ and from the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

Health officials recommend following these precautions to limit the spread of flu:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based cleaners are also effective.
  • Contain coughs and sneezes with tissues, or use a shoulder or crook of the elbow. Throw the tissue in the trash after use, and wash hands.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Use sanitizing or disinfecting agents often on frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with others and their secretions. This means the usual handshakes, hugs and kisses, and sharing drinking glasses, food and utensils should be avoided.
  • If you get sick, the CDC recommends staying home from work or school, and limiting contact with others to keep from infecting them.