September 14, 2009

Homewood, JHMI campuses report first cases of H1N1 flu

The first likely cases of H1N1 flu at Johns Hopkins were reported last week on the Homewood and JHMI campuses, but so far, the numbers are small: One student at Homewood and two from the School of Medicine have tested positive for influenza A.

A positive test for influenza A at a time of year when flu does not normally circulate in the community seems likely to indicate that H1N1 has arrived, according to university officials.

As of press time, Peabody, the School of Education, SAIS and the Montgomery County Campus had not identified any instances of the illness.

The so-called “rapid” test being used to diagnose sick students indicates only whether or not a patient has Type A influenza. But the test picks up only about 70 percent of cases and, whether positive or negative, does not tell with certainty whether or not the patient has H1N1. The specific test for H1N1 takes far longer to yield results, cannot be done on campus and is no longer being done by public health officials except in a small number of cases for very particular reasons.

The lack of definitive test results makes very little difference at this time, the officials said, as the treatment for H1N1 flu and seasonal flu in most instances is exactly the same: plenty of rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter medications as needed to reduce fever and address other symptoms.

The university is asking ill students to remain at their residences until they have gone without a fever of 100 degrees F or more for at least 24 hours without benefit of medications, to limit their contact with other people and to wear a mask when they are in contact with others who are caring for them, delivering meals or providing other assistance.

For updates on the flu, go to http://web

Flu vaccines for Homewood faculty and staff

Seasonal flu vaccines will be offered free of charge to faculty and staff (and spouses/same-sex domestic partners) of the Homewood campus from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13; Wednesday, Oct. 14; Tuesday, Oct. 27; and Wednesday, Oct. 28, in Levering’s Sherwood Room and Glass Pavilion.

The H1N1 vaccine may be available in mid- to late October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the vaccine becomes available and Occupational Health Services secures a supply, an announcement will be made with that information.

The Gazette will publish other vaccination schedules as they become available.