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Swine flu up amid student’s death

A week after students began filing back into the classroom, campus doctors have seen a steady stream of students with probable cases of swine flu.
“It’s basically been a handful each day,” said Dr. Roger Miller, a preventive-medicine physician at the Wilce Student Health Center.
The good news, Miller says, is that the virus is still classified as a “mild to moderate illness,” with no reports of serious cases on campus.
But Ohioans saw that the virus can be deadly, even for college students, after a freshman at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, died Saturday.
Matthew Healey, a Massachusetts native, became ill and was hospitalized during the first weeks of fall semester at Miami, said Carole Johnson, assistant director of news and publication at Miami. He was treated at a Cincinnati hospital before being transported to a hospital in Oxford, where he died.
Johnson said she could not comment on the cause of Healey’s death, but The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., attributed his death to the H1N1 virus.
“It’s tragic any time that a student dies,” said Miller, of the Student Health Center. “We know that that could happen on this campus, but we’re hopeful that we can keep making sure that people know where to go and what to do if they get sick.”
As more students turn to the Student Health Center with flu-like symptoms, doctors continue to use guidelines developed over the summer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Unlike last spring, when infected students were placed in quarantined apartments, doctors are now advising those with the virus to “stay in your room and monitor your temperature at least once a day, and get in touch with health care if things get worse,” Miller said.
After a delay due to manufacturing problems, the government-allotted H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive at OSU “in the next week or two,” Miller said. The vaccine will be available first to high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, but as supplies increase it will be available to the public.
While the university awaits the first batch of the vaccine, students are encouraged to receive vaccinations for the seasonal flu, said Jose Rodriguez, director of communications for Columbus Public Health. Those vaccinations are available daily by appointment at the Student Health Center.
Rodriguez said the rise in flu cases has extended throughout central Ohio, with hospitals reporting an increase in flu cases in recent weeks. A spokeswoman at OSU Medical Center said she did not have information regarding flu cases at the hospital.
Even though Rodriguez knows the advice has become hackneyed, he strongly encourages students to continue washing their hands.
“You guys are probably getting sick of hearing it, but you can’t say it enough,” he said.
Students who feel ill are instructed to call the Student Health Center at 292-4321, or schedule an appointment online at shc.osu.edu.

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