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Threat of swine flu abates on campus

Just as Duke students are looking forward to finishing up the academic year, swine flu may be on its way out.

Recently, Student Health has only recorded a small number of H1N1 cases, which mirrors the national trend, said Dr. Bill Purdy, executive director of Student Health.

Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said that despite the lack of swine flu cases on campus, Student Affairs is keeping a close watch on the illness.

“We are following the lead that the infectious disease specialists are providing to us and keeping a close watch locally, regionally and nationally,” she said.

Although there are few swine flu cases on Duke’s campus, North Carolina colleges have seen a relatively high number of cases during the past month relative to other colleges in different states, according to the American College Health Association’s Pandemic Influenza Surveillance data.

For the week of March 20-26, North Carolinian colleges reported 47 new H1N1 cases—the most in the nation. Of those 47 cases, 14 were reported on Duke’s campus, Flu Coordinator Christine Mulcahy said.

Colleges in North Carolina have also seen one of the highest cumulative swine flu infection rates in the nation with 6,556 cases since August. North Carolina also has the third highest flu count, trailing Pennsylvania and New York.

Cumulatively, Student Health treated 1,504 cases of H1N1 during the academic year, Mulcahy said.

Purdy said there have been no reported cases of the seasonal flu on campus this year and only a few cases reported throughout the state.

Currently, due to the unpredictable nature of the swine flu, administrators are not planning to make any significant changes to University policy regarding the disease unless they are advised to do so by Duke’s infectious disease specialists, Wasiolek said.

“For summer camps, we recommend to get the swine flu vaccine,” Purdy said. “It’s less likely there’s going to be a second wave of the active flu, but one can never say for sure.”

Last summer, there were several outbreaks of swine flu at the University, which affected the football team and led to the cancelation of the second session of the Talent Identification Program summer camp.

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