Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

University Reports Over 50 Likely Cases of H1N1 Virus

Over 50 probable student cases of the H1N1 virus have been reported since the start of the semester, according to James Welsh, assistant vice president for student health. Welsh expects the number of cases to rise in the weeks ahead.

As of Sept. 7, eight students had displayed flu-like symptoms at the Student Health Center. Four of the eight students were tested; all four tested positive for a subtype of Type A influenza commonly known as [the H1N1 virus](

“We just did [testing] in the beginning to establish what we were dealing with,” Welsh said.

The university did not continue testing because the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend testing on an individual basis. Testing is used for epidemiological purposes or hospitalized patients, according to Welsh.

In addition to the eight students who visited the Student Health Center, over 40 people with influenza symptoms have called in to the university’s H1N1 advice line or contacted the university’s on-call physicians, Welsh said.

“It is definitely busy,” Welsh said. “The flu is here.”

Welsh said that if a student displays symptoms including a sudden onset of fever, cough and sore throat, it is very likely that he or she is experiencing symptoms of influenza. He recommends that sick students isolate themselves in their rooms.

“We don’t want you going to class; we don’t want you going to Leo’s; we don’t want you leaving your room until you have had no fever for 24 hours,” Welsh said. “We will see [infected students] if they just want us to see them, but for most people with the flu, self-care will be adequate.”

The university, with the help of ARAMARK, has begun to allow friends of sick students to bring the students’ GOCards to O’Donovan Hall to retrieve prepared meals. Residence Hall Offices can also provide meals to students who cannot leave their rooms.

Several empty rooms have also been made available on campus for roommates of infected students.

Welsh said three types of infected students should seek treatment at the Student Health Center or Georgetown University Hospital: students who have underlying health problems, those who are suffering from serious related illnesses or those who have prolonged symptoms.

The university is also working with the D.C. Department of Health to provide students with a H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. According to Welsh, the vaccine is expected to become available in mid-October. Currently, anyone under the age of 25 is on the vaccine’s priority list.

“This is still preliminary because the amount of vaccine that will be available is not clear,” Welsh said. “The clinical trials have not yet been published. The priority list may change.”

In the meantime, the university has alerted the faculty to the likelihood of greater numbers of student absences from classes.

In an e-mail to university faculty, University Provost James O’Donnell told professors to excuse students from class who say they have experienced flu-like symptoms, as the Student Health Center will not be issuing excuse notes.

“Planning continues. . Faculty [is] being encouraged to think about ways to provide virtual continuity, but there is no overall program at the present time,” O’Donnell said.

Universities around the country are reporting outbreaks of the H1N1 strain. As of Sept. 10, more than 2,000 people at Washington State University have been infected. The George Washington University has reported more than 35 cases.

Welsh said that while he cannot estimate what portion of the campus community will be affected, an increase in the number of cases is probable.

“It is tough to predict. But we can see what is happening on other college campuses,” Welsh said. “What we know is there is little-to-no natural immunization in the population and that it is a highly contagious virus.”

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