February 22, 2010

Gannett Reports H1N1 Decrease, Consistent With Nat’l Trend

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Swine flu looks like it is on its way out, if the latest statistical trends hold. Recent data gathered by the American College Health Association has shown that the national rate of influenza-like illness –– a blanket term used by officials to describe the swine flu and similar flu-like conditions –– has dropped significantly since its peak in the fall, while Gannett Health Services is reporting a vastly lower number of average cases per day

Gannett records from the beginning of last semester show a rise in ILI starting at the end of August, with a spike of 100 cases a day in the first week of September. The number evened out to approximately 20 to 30 cases per day between mid-September and mid-October, when it rose again. From mid-October to the end of November the number of daily cases of ILI jumped to 40.

Yet, by the middle of December, the number of daily cases plummeted to about two per day. Though administrators at the time believed that winter break had contributed to the decline –– with fewer students on campus –– the trend continued when students returned, with the number of reported cases settling at around five per day in January and February.

“The peak for influenza-like illness on our campus was from September to November. Right now, our weekly case number resembles that of our previous daily case number; we have about 30 to 40 cases per week presently,” Sharon Dittman, associate director of Health Promotion and Community Relations for Gannett, said.

National trends show similar declines in the number of reported ILI cases. According to the American College Health Association, weekly cases of ILI on college campuses have decreased by more than 50 percent from October to early this month.

Dittman is hoping the numbers will stay that way.

“The only strain of influenza circulating in the country right now is H1N1 and even with that we continue to have a low level of activity. While it is still very difficult for people suffering from the illness, its impact on the community is greatly reduced as of late,” Dittman explained.

Although the number of reported ILI cases has improved from last semester, Gannett is still urging anyone who has not gotten their flu shot to do so. This can be done by walking in or making an appointment. Gannett is currently administering the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines.

Original Author: Erika Hooker