Evaluations for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased noticeably at University Health Services (UHS) for the first time in six weeks. In week 8 of the semester (Oct. 18–24), UHS evaluated 74 students with flu-like symptoms. ILI visits represented 6.5 percent of all visits to the primary care clinic. The previous week, there were 49 ILI diagnoses, and ILI visits made up 4.2 percent of primary care visits.
“We’re seeing ILI activity increase across the State of Wisconsin,” says Craig Roberts, UHS epidemiologist. “The national surveillance network indicates an increase in activity as well.”
“Particularly as we start to see more illness, it’s important to keep up those practices of frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you have any symptoms,” says Sarah Van Orman, M.D., executive director of UHS.
Halloween presents a special challenge this year, with the potential for thousands of people traveling to Madison to join the celebration.
“If you have friends planning to come for Halloween, please ask them to stay home if they develop any flu-like symptoms this week — which means a fever with a cough or sore throat,” says Van Orman. “If you get sick, you should stay home and not host any guests. And if you’re healthy and you go out to parties, definitely avoid sharing cups and playing drinking games.”
UHS was hoping to have a large stock of H1N1 vaccine by this time, but nationwide deliveries have fallen behind original projections. Like other schools and healthcare providers, UHS has no control of when its vaccine will arrive. To vaccinate the most students as efficiently as possible, UHS is planning to hold large-scale vaccination clinics in Memorial Union, the SERF and the Natatorium when supplies are available.
UHS did receive one limited shipment of H1N1 vaccine, which is currently available to students with medical conditions that put them at a higher risk of complications from influenza. For more info, visit UHS.
“The campus has done a great job of getting through this unusual semester so far,” says Van Orman. “Now we all just need to have a little patience and flexibility, and as soon as the vaccine arrives, we’ll be getting it out to students.”
UHS services are available to all enrolled UW–Madison graduate and undergraduate students. For an appointment or urgent medical advice, call (608) 265-5600.