WMU Home > WMU News >

WMU News

WMU continues to monitor pandemic

July 6, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University continues to urge standard precautions to avoid contracting the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu), but is not recommending any changes in travel plans or public events and gatherings.

"At the beginning of the outbreak in May, it was unclear whether H1N1 would pose a serious threat to humans," says Dr. Lisa Marshall, medical director at WMU's Sindecuse Health Center. "We have much more information now, and most of it is relatively reassuring at this time."

Today's facts and recommendations about H1N1

  • Most cases of H1N1 are relatively mild, similar to seasonal influenza. According to the World Health Organization, only 2 percent of all cases result in severe illness.
  • Reactions to seasonal flu vary widely. Some people become seriously ill, most do not. The same is true for H1N1, but according to the Centers for Disease Control there appear to be differences in high-risk groups. In particular, those over 65, a high-risk group for seasonal flu, do not appear to be a high-risk group for H1N1. By contrast, younger people, 19 to 49, appear to be at higher risk with H1N1.
  • H1N1 was officially declared a pandemic June 11 by the World Health Organization, with more than 70,000 cases reported in 110 countries worldwide. Cases have been reported in all 50 U.S. states and every county in Michigan.
  • Canceling travel and events would not reduce the risk of contracting the virus as much as following simple recommendations, such as washing hands frequently and maintaining healthy practices in diet, rest and exercise.
  • Use common sense in public places and crowds, but unless you avoid all human contact, staying home would not protect you from the possibility of contracting the virus.

"For better or worse, the situation will change," says Marshall, "which is why we are continuing to monitor the spread of the virus. We continue to urge standard precautions to avoid contracting the flu, but there is no evidence that extraordinary measures are warranted at this time."

In all cases, WMU follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and state and local health departments.

Visit the Flu Information Center at wmich.edu/flu for links to the Sindecuse Health Center, WMU's pandemic plan and other campus resources, as well as related pages of the CDC and other state, national and international agencies.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400