Global navigation

Main Content

UW-Madison flu outbreak confirmed as H1N1

As of Sept. 1, University Health Services (UHS) began seeing a marked increase in patients with flu-like symptoms (including fever greater than 100 degrees F, and either cough or sore throat).

Preliminary results from surveillance cultures performed by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicate that H1N1 is the predominant strain of influenza causing these symptoms. To date, 81 percent of the patient specimens have tested positive for H1N1, with testing yet to be completed on the rest.

“Based on our preliminary results and trends elsewhere in the state, it won’t be surprising if 90 percent or more of these cases eventually come back as H1N1,” says Craig Roberts, UHS epidemiologist.

Through Sept. 5, 198 students had been evaluated for ILI at UHS, representing 15.4 percent of primary care clinic patients. The vast majority were undergraduates (94 percent), with a small number coming from graduate or professional programs. Undergraduates were fairly evenly divided by class year. Median patient age was 20; only 2 percent of patients were over 24. More patients lived off campus than in the residence halls (81 percent vs. 19 percent). Although some small clusters of cases were identified, on the whole, cases were distributed evenly across the student community.

No hospitalizations of students with ILI have been reported to UHS. Most students are describing a sudden onset of symptoms that intensify and then respond well to self-care, followed by an unproblematic recovery within 3 to 5 days.

– Students who feel their cases are mild should remember that the instructions to self-isolate are not for their protection but because they are actively shedding influenza virus that is highly contagious to others.

– Now that H1N1 has been confirmed in the community, routine testing is no longer indicated. Students who feel they are recovering well with self-care should not contact UHS just to get a test to see if what they have is H1N1; such tests will not be performed.

– Students who need urgent medical advice may contact UHS at (608) 265-5600. Students with “high-risk” medical conditions should call UHS or another healthcare provider promptly, if they get sick. UHS is experiencing very high call volume, and students may be put on hold or called back.