Sick Lady Trojan suffers from #039;just pneumonia#039;

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A Charles Henderson student returned from her trip to Spain feeling poorly and was admitted to a local hospital early Tuesday morning.

Chelsey Howard, a senior who went with 48 other students for a week-long trip to Spain, was diagnosed with pneumonia, but doctors said she is not suffering from anything worse.

"The hospital has been in contact with the CDC and she only has pneumonia," Howard's mother, Lisa Howard, said. "She just has good old pneumonia."

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The hospital contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "cover all its bases" in regards to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS is a pneumonia-like disease that has caused worldwide concern in recent weeks.

Although cases of SARS have been reported in the United States and have resulted in 17 deaths across the globe, Howard said the hospital assured her Chelsey did not have that disease.

"The CDC told the hospital that Spain was not an area of concern about the respiratory disease," she said.

Chelsey started feeling poorly in the early part of the trip, but Howard said Chelsea thought it was only a cold.

Later in the week, she was exhibiting signs of being sicker than she thought.

"She started feeling bad Saturday or Sunday," roommate Rachael Spurlin said. "She felt bad, had a sore throat and was throwing up a lot. By the time we got off the flight, she was very stiff and was weak."

The students arrived in Troy around midnight Monday and Chelsey was immediately taken to the hospital.

"She did not let anyone know how sick she was," Howard said. "I don't think she knew how sick she was, and you never know what kind of treatment you will get in a foreign country.

"Would I rather her seek treatment in Spain or in America? I would rather her get treated here."

One reason the doctors ruled out the SARS possibility is that only Chelsey was sick out of 49 students. Spurlin said some students are complaining of colds, but none are as sick as Chelsey.

"If this had been something that serious, more people would have been sick that just my daughter," Lisa said. "She was just the lucky one."

Doctors told the Howards the treatment should last a couple of days and Chelsey could return home soon. Chelsey is on the Charles Henderson softball team and was unable to play in Tuesday's win over Eufaula.

"The team called before the game and after it," Lisa said. "She wanted to play, but she couldn't. She really wants to play Thursday."