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Some 2,000 reported sick with swine flu at WSU September 6, 2009

Posted by scmla in Article.
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Washington state again, but this time in the southeast corner (in Pullman).

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Some 2,000 reported sick with swine flu at WSU
Washington State University officials say more than 2,000 have been sickened by swine flu during the first two weeks of classes on the Pullman campus.
Kyung M. Song
SeattleTimes.com
September 4, 2009

Swine flu has sickened some 2,000 people in and around Washington State University in Pullman following an outbreak that apparently started almost as soon as the university reopened for the fall term.

The vast majority suffered mild illnesses. Only two non-students — an adult and a teen — were hospitalized and released, said Fran Martin, director of Whitman County Public Health.

The H1N1 virus “somehow got on that campus,” Martin said. “This is what we had been expecting would happen” once students began congregating indoors.

Martin said the first cases turned up Aug. 25, one day after classes resumed. Samples from the first several dozen cases were sent to Shoreline for testing at the state health department laboratory, which confirmed that they were the H1N1 virus.

Officials halted testing after additional probable cases flooded in, but Martin said that based on the initial test results, 98 percent of the people who reported flu-like symptoms probably are infected with H1N1.

Health officials ruled out seasonal flu because it typically doesn’t strike until winter. Also, most of those sickened have been young people, not the elderly and very young children who account for most seasonal flu cases.

Martin said more large swine flu outbreaks could occur as other schools reopen later. Fall quarter at the University of Washington begins Sept. 30, and many public schools students in the Puget Sound-area are already back in classes.

Martin said the best precaution against infections is good hygiene, including hand washing and staying away from crowds and indoor spaces while you have flu-like symptoms.

A person is safe to return to school or work after being fever-free for 24 hours without medication, Martin said.

In Pullman, WSU is handing out free flu kits, including a thermometer, painkillers, throat lozenges, sport drinks, hand sanitizer and tissues. The WSU Cougars are playing the Stanford Cardinal football team Saturday. Martin said public health officials advised that the game be held, saying that fans face “little chance (of infection) sitting outdoors.”

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