The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

University suspects four cases of swine flu; not widespread

August 31, 11:15 a.m. -- Steve Allred, provost and vice president for academic affairs, sent an e-mail to staff and faculty, confirming four suspected cases of H1N1 influenza on campus. He also instructed them as to the university's planned response to a potential outbreak of H1N1 influenza.

Students who contract the virus and live within five hours from campus will be encouraged, but not required, to return home to receive private care. Any student who is unable to return home will be asked to remain in his or her room until 24 hours after his or her fever has subsided.

Those students will be excused from class and will receive meals in their rooms. Roommates will be instructed to practice proper hygiene practices and to wear surgical masks, which will be provided by the Student Health Center following CDC guidelines.

The university has also applied for allotments of the H1N1 vaccine and will communicatate vaccination procedures with students once supplies are received, Allred said.

In the event of a widespread outbreak of H1N1 influenza, university officials plan to enact additional strategies designed to restrict the spread of the virus, including implementing distance learning to ensure that sick students remain caught up with class work.

University officials had met last summer to develop an influenza response plan in the event of an outbreak, he said.

Staff writer Jimmy Young reported this story.

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August 31, 12:00 a.m. -- Brian Eckert, director of media and public relations, said that four students had developed flu-like illnesses during the weekend, but could not confirm whether any of the students had contracted H1N1 influenza.

Eckert also said that the four students had been treated and that the illnesses were not widespread. Students should continue to follow standard flu-prevention practices, he said.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands frequently with soap and water; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; using a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and disposing of the tissue; and keeping hands away from eyes, nose and mouth.

Staff writer Jimmy Young reported this story.

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August 30, 10:25 p.m. -- Two University of Richmond students have contracted H1N1 influenza, commonly known as swine flu, and are currently quarantined in South Court.

The two students, one a resident of Gray Court and other of South Court, asked not to be named. The Gray Court student went to the Student Health Center on Thursday and was told to drink fluids and rest. He returned Friday and was given Ibuprofen. No tests were taken to determine whether he had any strain of influenza, including H1N1. By Saturday, his symptoms had worsened drastically.

Both students had similar symptoms and went to Patient First - a health clinic in Carytown - together on Saturday because the Student Health Center is closed on weekends.

"It feels like someone's eating my brain with a spoon," the Gray Court student said about his symptoms.

In addition to severe headaches, they both had sore throats, body aches, fevers, chills and were bothered by loud noises and bright lights. The doctors recognized these symptoms as flu-like, and before any tests were taken, requested that they put on masks.

Ten minutes later, the doctor confirmed to the students that they had contracted the H1N1 virus, although comprehensive test results would take one week to process. Patient First gave them flu medicine and the two students told their respective Resident Assistants.

The two students also said a third student had the virus. They said that student's mother had called the UR Emergency Hotline.

Jason Titus, the Richmond College Area Coordinator overseeing Gray and South courts, came to the student's room in South Court and told him that he needed to remain quarantined in that room. The other student moved temporarily out of Gray and into South, and the student's two roommates relocated off campus.

"We're not allowed to see anyone or go anywhere except the bathroom," the students said. "People treat us like lepers."

Since Saturday, a nurse at the Health Center has called the students several times to see how they were feeling. The students' biggest complaint was that the Health Center is closed on weekends.

"It's not like people don't get hurt or sick on weekends," the students agreed. "It's absurd. They should always be open."

Representatives from Patient First and the University Police declined to comment. Resident Assistants of the students said they had been told not to comment. The Health Center staff, Titus and Vice President for Student Development Steve Bisese were unavailable for comment.

This version CORRECTS the two students' quote that the third student contacted Westhampton College Dean Juliette Landphair.

Staff writer Jimmy Young contributed reporting for this story.

Contact staff writers Mary Morgan at mary.morgan@richmond.edu and Avril Lighty at avril.lighty@richmond.edu

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