A St. Thomas health service official said Friday that the school has 26 presumed cases of the H1N1 virus.
Twenty-one of the cases were self-reported on the university’s pandemic-planning website, while the other five were seen at the health service clinic, said Madonna McDermott, director of the Student Health Service and Wellness Center.
McDermott said the cases are called presumed because the only official way to test is through the Minnesota Department of Health.
McDermott said the majority of cases were from people who lived off-campus.
University officials have placed hand-sanitizer dispensers in high-traffic areas across campus such as the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, Koch Commons and all on-campus restaurants. Students are encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap or hand sanitizer to avoid spreading the virus.
The H1N1 virus, sometimes known as “swine flu,” made its first appearance in the United States in April 2009. The first case in Minnesota was reported at Rocori Middle School in Cold Springs in April. There have been three deaths in Minnesota connected to the virus and 213 confirmed cases in the metro area as of July 23, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
A vaccine is expected to be available in October, McDermott said. Pregnant women, people who live with or care for 6-month to 4-year-old children, and children ages 5 to 18 with chronic medical conditions are recommended to get the vaccine first.
Common symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Other common symptoms reported include diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The University of St. Thomas advises students, faculty and staff to stay at home, avoiding contact with others if they think they have the virus. Students should also complete an online form at http://www.stthomas.edu/pandemic/plan/default.html to notify professors of their absence.
Pauleen Le contributed to this report.
Brent Fischer can be reached at email@example.com