Flu Hits Students in the Southeast

By Michelle Starr, UWIRE

Suspected cases of H1N1 hit the Southeast hard this past week, canceling at least one season-opening college football game and sending Emory students to a special dorm to prevent the spread of the illness.

According to the American College Health Association’s recent survey, more college students in the Southeast are reporting flu-like illnesses than the rest of the country. The region comprised of Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia reported 858 cases of flu-like illnesses since Aug. 22. The region covering Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington reported the next-highest number of cases with 236 illnesses.

The American College Health Association has been tracking the spread of flu-like illnesses at 165 institutions serving more than 2.07 million people since Aug. 22. Overall, 1,640 new cases were reported which reflected a rate of 7.9 new cases per 10,000 students.

A greater percentage of college students in Georgia and Washington reported symptoms of a flu-like illness than students in other states last week, according to the survey.

Nearly 81 out of 10,000 students in Georgia and slightly more than 124 out of 10,000 in Washington reported new cases of a flu-like illness. Mississippi came in as the third-highest rate of illness among students with slightly more than 43 students out of 10,000 reporting a new case.

Stillman College in Alabama canceled the school’s first home game because players were experiencing flu-like symptoms this week, according to Tuscaloosa News. The team was set to play Clark Atlanta University on Saturday.

At Emory University in Atlanta, students believed to be infected by H1N1 are asked to go home if possible or take up residence in a specific dorm dedicated to isolating the students to prevent the spread of the illness. The school stated in an announcement to students and parents that the dorm is not an infirmary or hospital, and no medical staff will be treating these students.

More than 80 students have relocated to the dorm and more than 25 have recovered and returned to classes, according to an announcement from Dr. Michael J. Huey, executive director at Emory University Student Health and Counseling Services.

Officials at Wake Forest University in North Carolina have treated about 100 cases of flu since Aug. 28. The school is urging students to take preventative measures such as washing their hands thoroughly, avoid touching their mouths, eyes or nose and avoid contact with sick people, according the Wake Forest Web site.

More than 170 students at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee have sought treatment from the university’s health center, according to the student newspaper.

To respond to the increase in illness, the health center is opening a clinic dedicated to seeing students developing flu-like symptoms during the weekend, according to a message from Dr. Louise Hanson, medical director of the Zerfoss Student Health Center.

The American College Health Association’s surveying, which began the week of Aug. 22 to Aug. 28 and will continue to be reported weekly, aims to increase the understanding of flu activity on college campuses, according to the association’s Web site. Calls to the American College Health Association were not immediately returned.

Students in 26 states have not reported new cases of flu at schools participating in the survey, according to the data.

Of those surveyed, a slightly greater number of women reported being sick than men with 51 percent of those new cases compared with 49 percent, respectively. And more cases are being reported among students 17 to 24 year sold than among those older than 24.

This story was filed by UWIRE, which offers reporting from more than 800 colleges and universities worldwide. Read more at www.uwire.com