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University News

Web update: Student has Brown’s first swine flu case

Is 'doing well' in isolation on campus

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Brown student has a laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 influenza, the University announced in an e-mail to the community Wednesday, just days ahead of the 241st annual Commencement exercises.

The student, a member of the class of 2010, is currently recovering in social isolation in West House near Pembroke campus and is receiving meals in her room, according to an e-mail sent to residents of the house Tuesday by Edward Wheeler, director of University Health Services.

The student had been sick for approximately four days before coming in to Health Services Tuesday, when she was diagnosed, according to Wheeler’s e-mail. “She is doing well,” he wrote.

Despite elevated national concern about “swine flu” earlier this month, the Rhode Island Department of Health now regards the current strain of influenza as similar to the seasonal flu, said Russell Carey, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and University governance.

Carey and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn sent an e-mail to faculty, staff and students Wednesday afternoon encouraging all who were planning to be on campus to “practice preventative behaviors,” such as frequent hand-washing.

The student was likely exposed to the H1N1 virus while in New York, according to Carey’s e-mail. No one with whom she has been in close contact has since become sick, Carey wrote.

The state health department did not make any special advisories for the University’s Commencement events this weekend because of the virus, Carey said Thursday. “We are paying attention to it and are taking appropriate precautions, but we are not overly concerned,” he said.

Brown expects over 12,000 people for the Campus Dance alone on Friday night, said Todd Andrews ’83, vice president for alumni relations.

Hand sanitizer stations will be moved to highly frequented areas for the weekend and the University will continue to publicize health safety information on campus, Carey said. Additional information has been posted to the Commencement Web site.

Carey said that there has not been a high level of concern about the flu virus from students and alums in anticipation of the weekend’s events, though he said that could change as people begin to arrive on campus.

The University expanded its existing crisis management committee several weeks ago at the height of national concern about a possible pandemic, adding members with specialties in disease control and public health, Carey said earlier this month.

Since that time — though the level of concern has significantly declined — Brown has remained in daily contact with the state health department, he said.

Brown has been planning against potential disease outbreaks for years, a fact which has taught administrators how to adapt quickly and efficiently to crisis situations, Carey said.

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