Indiana reports Notre Dame student with swine flu

2009-04-28T00:00:00Z Indiana reports Notre Dame student with swine fluThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 28, 2009 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | A University of Notre Dame student is Indiana's first confirmed case of swine flu, State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe said Tuesday, urging residents to take precautions but not panic as the new virus continued its spread.

Monroe said the infected Notre Dame student is "doing well" and suffered no serious complications from the swine flu virus. That student had not recently traveled to Mexico, where the new flu strain is suspected of causing more than 150 deaths, she said.

But state epidemiologists are investigating and hope to know within a few days how the young adult at the school in South Bend became infected with the virus, Monroe said.

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"We don't know if this individual perhaps had contact with someone who had recently traveled to Mexico -- that's the investigation that has to take place," she said.

Officials declined to say whether the student at the South Bend campus is a man or woman, but Notre Dame said in a statement Tuesday that the student "has fully recovered and is in good health" after becoming ill last week.

Dr. Rebecca Moskwinski, the medical director of student health services at Notre Dame, said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference in South Bend that campus health officials are going to visit dorms, talk to rectors and be in touch with students through e-mails and handouts.

But she said there are no other special steps being taken on campus, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address May 17. She added that the student health clinic had seen no flu cases beyond the student who tested positive for swine flu.

"There's no cause for panic. We're not closing down the university. We're not canceling public events," Moskwinski said.

The World Health Organization said Monday that the virus -- a new mix of hog, bird and human flu viruses -- was spreading from human to human in community outbreaks.

More than 60 swine flu infections have been identified so far in the United States, including one in neighboring Ohio. No deaths have been reported in the United States, but a top federal health official said Tuesday that deaths are likely in the U.S.

Monroe said there was no reason for panic. She said Indiana was closely monitoring hospitals for signs of an influx of people with flu symptoms, including using a system of 30 "sentinel" physicians at hospitals and clinics statewide who keep watch for influenza cases.

Monroe said Indiana has enough antiviral drugs on hand to treat 851,000 people.

By late Tuesday, Indiana was expected to have sent a total of about 30 viral samples to the CDC for analysis to determine if they might be swine flu, said Elizabeth Hart, a spokeswoman for the state department of health.

Hart said the CDC had completed only one test result -- the positive Notre Dame result.

Notre Dame said in a statement that the student who fell ill had sought treatment April 22 at the college's student health center, at which time a culture sample was taken and sent to Indiana health officials for analysis.

Two days later, the school was notified that the virus may have been swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Monday night that the sample was positive for swine flu.

After receiving the positive test result, Notre Dame staff and medical workers contacted and interviewed the student, following CDC protocol, the school said. Notre Dame was working with state and local health officials "to identify the student's close contacts."

Monroe urged Indiana residents to practice commonsense hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Among other things, she said people should wash their hands frequently, sneeze into tissues that are immediately thrown away and refrain from greeting each other by shaking hands because viruses can be spread through such contract.

"The emphasis right now is to limit the spread of this virus and the way we will do that is through good hand-washing -- and starting today I would recommend that Indiana stop shaking hands," she said.

Monroe said people who become ill with flu-like symptoms, including a fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, headaches, sore throat or body aches should "voluntarily stay at home" and remain there for at least 24 hours after their flu symptoms have ended.

Workers in particular should not report to work if they have flu symptoms, she said.

"I know it's tough economic times -- folks are fearful of losing jobs -- but we don't want people coming to work with flu-like symptoms out of fear of losing their jobs," Monroe said.

As a precaution in case of a swine flu outbreak, Indiana's emergency preparedness center is now on a "limited activation," said Joe Wainscott, executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Six state agencies -- homeland security, health department, board of animal health, State Police, National Guard and department of transportation -- have been enlisted in that effort.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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