Swine flu virus reaches UA

From the left, Executive Vice President and Provost Meredith Hay and Brian Seastone, Commander/Mngr. of Emergency Preparedness, listen with other UA officials to discussion of about the action the university if Swine Flu infections were discovered in Tucson.

The first case of a UA student contracting the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, was confirmed over the weekend, but university officials made no formal announcement about the matter.

The unidentified female fell ill last week, according to UA spokesman Johnny Cruz, who has been communicating with Campus Health about the case.  Cruz said he doesn't know if the student lives or works on campus, but said her case was mild to moderate in severity, and she has since made a full recovery.


The university has a contingency plan for an outbreak of the virus, and promotes ways to prevent getting the flu via fliers and posters on campus. Online updates about flu outbreaks are also sent out on UANews.

""We can certainly say it's circling nationwide and we should expect more cases here,"" Cruz said.

The case of H1N1 adds to the 25 confirmed cases of influenza on campus in roughly the last two weeks , Cruz said. All the cases were mild to moderate in severity with no hospitalizations. That number is higher than average for this time of year, according to Harry McDermott, the director of Campus Health Service.

Rapid flu testing revealed the majority of students that tested positive for the flu have Type A, or the common flu. It takes specialized testing to determine if anybody seen recently at Campus Health has the H1N1 virus.

Students who are severely ill or have other potentially complicated medical problems like asthma are being treated with Tamiflu, McDermott said.

""We are strongly recommending that anyone who develops flu-like symptoms should isolate themselves as soon as possible in their home or room and contact the Campus Health Service by phone if they feel that they need to be seen by a doctor,"" he said.

These precautions reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to reduce the chance of exposing others to flu.

The CDC also suggests students rest and treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medications for reducing coughs and fever.

Nearly 8,000 hospitalizations and more than 500 deaths associated with the 2009 H1N1 viruses have been reported, according to the CDC's weekly ""Flu View"" newsletter.

The UA Pandemic Response Planning Subgroup is part of the Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) on campus available for planning and implementing plans for dealing with crises. CERT, along with local and national agencies is working to help create a strategy in case of a pandemic influenza outbreak. Information on the precautions taken for emergencies is available at

At times, the H1N1 virus is reported as being milder than the common flu. While there is worry that outbreaks will occur on campus, McDermott told the Faculty Senate in May that there is little chance school will be suspended due to an outbreak. H1N1 vaccines will hopefully be available this fall at Campus Health. 

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