University, state leaders monitoring flu situation

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Gov. Jack Markell addresses the media during Wednesday's press conference.
UD President Patrick Harker at the Wednesday morning press conference.
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2:31 p.m., April 29, 2009----Leaders from the state, the University of Delaware and the medical community said they are working together to monitor the situation concerning the identification of four UD students who have been identified with cases of influenza that probably meet the definitions for swine flu.

Speaking at a press conference held Wednesday, April 29, in the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington were Gov. Jack Markell, UD President Patrick Harker, Dr. James Newman, chief medical officer for Christiana Care, and Dr. Paul Silverman, associate deputy director for Health Information and Science of the Delaware Division of Public Health.

The Division of Public Health is submitting samples from four UD students to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) to determine if they are cases of swine flu.

“One of the state's core responsibilities is to protect public health,” Markell said. “We also must be careful to kept this situation in perspective.”

Markell noted that to date the students have only been treated for flu-like symptoms, and that any confirmation if they are cases of swine flu will have to come from the CDC.

“We have put medical alerts out through the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services network,” Markell said. “We also informed key state agencies and local governments and higher education officials and have sent 31 registered nurses along with 51 others health professionals to the University.”

Markell said the state has deployed supplies to continue to serve students at UD and to provide screening, assessment and treatment when needed, and has set up an information hotline at 1-866-408-1899.

Harker joined the governor in reaffirming that the health and wellness of its students is the University's highest priority.

“We learned of this on Tuesday [April 28] and alerted the campus community and established two centers for students seeking help from public health representatives,” Harker said.

As of noon Wednesday, April 29, more than about 100 students had turned out for evaluation. Harker noted that on an average day the UD Student Health Services treats about 170 students.

The centers include a special clinic at the Carpenter Sports Building (The Little Bob), staffed by officials from the State Division of Public Health.

Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Kathy Atkinson

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