Flu outbreak at College at Brockport

375 Cases Of The Flu At Suny Brockport

About 375 students have come down with the flu over the past three weeks at The College at Brockport.

Brockport officials got signs of an outbreak around Feb. 1 when students started coming to the college's Hazen Center for Integrated Care with flu symptoms.

Signs of flu include fever, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

Swabs were taken of about 20 of them, with the tests for roughly 90 percent showing they had the flu.

Since then, the center has seen students with flu symptoms coming into the center or calling in with flu symptoms, said Libby Caruso, director of Health Counseling Services at the Hazen Center.

None of the estimated 375 students who have had bouts of the flu were known to be hospitalized, said Caruso.

Caruso said the number of cases is the largest that she has seen in her 26 years on the job at Brockport.

The vast majority of these cases did not involve lab tests and thus were not reported to public health officials. The Monroe County Department of Public Health, through Feb. 4, recorded about 1,100 flu cases in the county, including slightly more than 200 hospitalizations and five influenza-related deaths, said John Ricci, spokesman for the department.

In most cases, the Brockport students have stayed in their rooms for three to five days, as they recover from the viral respiratory illness.

None of the other local colleges reported an outbreak.

State University of New York at Geneseo tells of 34 cases during the week of Jan. 30,  with the number of new cases dropping to 21 the following week and five to six cases this week.

"We've seen some cases of the flu but nothing out of the ordinary," said Monroe Community College spokeswoman Cynthia Cooper Mapes.

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The University Health Service at the University of Rochester said: "We have been seeing both students and others with respiratory illnesses — typical for this time of year — but we haven't done much testing for influenza this winter."

The flu is contagious, and officials stressed the importance of hand-washing and limiting contact with other people.

"We have seen a sharp decline in the last two days," said Caruso, noting that the number of new cases dropped from a high of 30 to 40 a day to five to 10.

Students, faculty and staff were alerted to the outbreak in a Feb. 1 email from Chaley Swift, administrative assistant to the vice president of student affairs.

"The College at Brockport has seen a significant increase in influenza and influenza-like illnesses in the past few days," said Swift back then.

Her email went on to say that students with the flu should stay in their residence and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.

"This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings," said Swift.

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Swift followed with a similar email to students on Feb 7, with the subject line saying: "Influenza and influenza-like illnesses continue to be prevalent on campus."

The college has flu kits available that provide medication to relieve some of the symptoms.

Flu clinics were held in the fall, when about 600 vaccinations were given.

"We have used up all the vaccinations," she said.

The county, said Ricci, did not know about the flu outbreak at The College at Brockport.

That's because only a small number of these cases — about 20 students who had swabs taken and tested in labs — had to be reported by the lab that did the testing. And the lab reported to state health officials.

“Brockport was not required to notify us," said Ricci.

The flu vaccine, he noted, is 70 to 80 percent effective, and people wanting it should contact their doctor or pharmacy.

"It's an annual vaccination recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older," he said.

JGOODMAN@Gannett.com

Gannett


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