April 28, 2009

Gannett Warns Students About Swine Flu Outbreak

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Although there has been no reported case of swine flu at Cornell or in Tompkins County, members of the Cornell community should “be alert and cautious but not panic,” according to Sharon Dittman, associated director of community relations at Gannett Health Services.
As of yesterday, 45 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in at least five states in the United States, including New York. Because it is a new strain of influenza, people are unlikely to have natural immunity against the flu, which is passed from human to human, according to Gannett’s website.
Dittman said that symptoms of the swine flu are “basically identical” to those of seasonal flu, which include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
Gannett has sent a University-wide e-mail to the Cornell community. It is also working closely with public health officials in the county and the state and conducted some rehearsals. Dittman said once a student is diagnosed with a high-risk disease, he or she will go into isolation. An invocation period typically lasts three to seven days, but in the case of a suspected swine flu, the patient will be isolated for 10 days. These guidelines, however, are not set in stone as information about the flu is updated daily.
“We’re dealing with a rapidly evolving situation, so we have to monitor what’s happening internationally, nationally, in the New York State and locally, because we are an international community,” Dittman said.
Apart from sharing information with state and county public health officials on an individual basis, Gannett staff has also been accessing a confidential website, where public health departments provide guidance to health care providers.