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Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cases of flu-like illnesses at IU Bloomington higher than in September '08

Oct. 6, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Flu-like illnesses were significantly higher on the IU Bloomington campus during September with 237 cases compared to just two during the same month a year ago, according to the Indiana University Health Center.


Indiana Universty Bloomington's Health Center reported 237 cases of influenza-like illnesses during September, up from just two during the same period a year ago. Tips for preventing exposure, future vaccination plans and treatment are available at both state and IU websites.

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While following recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control that hospitals and clinics not routinely test for H1N1 and instead diagnose and count "influenza-like illnesses," officials at the health center said the increase follows a trend seen across the country.

"Twenty-seven states, including Indiana, are now reporting widespread flu activity, which is very unusual for this time of year," said IU Health Center medical director Diana Ebling. "The change (from last year) is definitely significant."

Ebling said the health center had already signed a provider agreement to receive H1N1 vaccines from the Indiana Department of Health, but that no delivery date had yet been confirmed.

"We expect to get our first shipment of injectable vaccine sometime this month, and at that point we anticipate that it will be shipped to us on a weekly basis," she added. "We will then follow the CDC recommendations concerning initial priority groups to receive the vaccine."

The first vaccine to be released by manufacturers will be the nasal spray FluMist that will be shipped to pediatricians and not be used by the IU health center for the Bloomington student population. But Ebling said students 24 years old and younger would be the first to receive the injectable vaccine, along with those ages 25 through 64 who are at a higher risk of complications from H1N1 due to chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems. Also included in that initial priority group are pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age and healthcare and emergency medical services personnel.

"Right now we're keeping a weekly count of all patients we see that are diagnosed with influenza-like illnesses and sending that information to the Indiana State Department of Health and the American College Health Association," she added.

That statewide update is being posted on the state's 2009 H1N1 Influenza A Web site at every Wednesday. Of all specimens testing positive for influenza 89 percent were the 2009 H1N1 strain.

And last week Pam Pontones, acting state epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health, said high levels of influenza-like illnesses at the state's universities may have been creating a perception that those illnesses were at high levels community-wide.

To learn more about the 2009 H1N1 Influenza A or about influenza-like illnesses in general, visit the IU Health Center at or the Indiana Department of Health site at To receive "tweets" about the 2009 H1N1 Flu vaccine, you can become a follower of the state public safety Twitter site at:

To speak with Ebling, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or