December 9, 2022

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The state health agency has issued an alert as a campus flu outbreak has surpassed 500 cases

Image Courtesy: ABC News

The state health agency has issued an alert as a campus flu outbreak has surpassed 500 cases

Public health officials are looking into an influenza outbreak at a Michigan university that has resulted in over 500 cases, as well as flu activity at numerous other colleges.

Since Oct. 6, the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus in Washtenaw County has reported over 525 cases among students, with nearly three-quarters of them among those who have not been vaccinated against the flu, according to school officials.

Nearly all of the instances have been recorded in the last two weeks, according to the university, which is tracking a “huge and rapid surge” in cases.

In a statement, Juan Luis Marquez, medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department, said, “While we generally start to see some flu activity now, the extent of this outbreak is exceptional.”

A team from the CDC is assisting the university, as well as local and state health departments, in investigating the outbreak, including how the virus is spreading.

In the midst of the outbreak, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging individuals to obtain the flu vaccine, as vaccine administrations are down by roughly 26% year over year and COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

“This outbreak comes as COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise in Michigan, with case rates, positive rates, hospitalizations, and deaths all on the rise,” the agency stated in a statement on Wednesday. “If COVID-19 and influenza cases rise at the same time this winter, state and local public health officials are concerned about additional burden on health systems.”

Flu epidemics are also affecting other campuses. Since Nov. 1, Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, has registered 150 flu cases among students, the majority of which occurred last week, according to Joe Cardona, vice president of university relations. This week, the school has been organising flu vaccination clinics for children and employees as a result of the situation.

Flu outbreaks have also been detected at Florida State University and Florida A&M University, according to the Associated Press.

Florida A&M University entrance sign
Image Courtesy: ABC News

Following last season’s modest flu activity, public health experts have cautioned that this flu season could be more severe.

According to the CDC, flu occurrences decreased significantly during the 2020-2021 season, owing in part to people wearing masks, exercising frequent hand cleanliness, and socially isolating themselves to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, stated, “As we move into respiratory virus season, it is critical to take every mitigation measure we can to prevent outbreaks of the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.” “Wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, and receiving flu and COVID-19 vaccines will all assist to reduce the spread of sickness.”

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