University student possibly has swine flu

Published 10:27 pm Monday, May 4, 2009

A Troy University student is likely the latest H1-N1 flu victim in the state, marking the first probable case in Pike County.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Monday a female student in her 20s has become the 10th probable case in Alabama.

Troy University’s Dean of Student Services Herb Reeves said the student’s identity has not been released to the university at this time for privacy reasons, but he did confirm the student lives off campus.

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Since officials do not know her identity, local physician Dr. Mickey DiChiara, who treats students on campus, said it is difficult to know how likely the flu virus is to spread in Pike County.

“It could (spread). It just depends on the contact and where this girl got it,” DiChiara said. “Without talking to her, I wouldn’t be able to know.”

State Health Officer Don Williamson said the case was diagnosed in Pike County and the student is now recovering at home.

But, since the school does not know who the student is, Reeves said he is uncertain whether the patient was treated at the student health center on campus.

“I don’t know for a fact not knowing the students’ name, and they won’t release it for privacy reasons,” Reeves said.

Reeves said the health center has been conducting flu tests in the clinic, but he doesn’t think any samples have been sent to the state health department.

As recommended by the state, the university will not close campus as K-12 schools did in Madison County.

Reeves cautioned students who have flu-like symptoms — fever, cough, aching or headaches — to contact the student health center or a personal physician and avoid going to class.

Reeves said students are urged to even avoid their final exams this week if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, and they will be allowed to take them once flu concerns pass.

Also, the university recommends anyone with these symptoms to avoid Friday’s commencement ceremony.

DiChiara said while this is the first likely case locally, it is not something to panic about.

“A healthy person shouldn’t have any problems,” DiChiara said. “You treat it the same as you treat any flu situation. The only thing different about this is more 17 to 35 year olds are getting it, rather than younger and older (individuals we typically see) with the regular flu.”

DiChiara said taking typical health precautions such as washing hands and avoiding touching your face are recommended during the H1-N1 concerns.

Reeves said more information will be released as it becomes available to the university.

“It’s concerning to me and also concerning we get the appropriate information out to the students,” Reeves said.