The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

City, state prepare against H1N1

David Taintor

As of Sunday, the Center for Disease Control confirmed three cases of H1N1 Influenza (swine flu) and 25 probable cases in Wisconsin, according to an Eau Claire Health Department Situation Report. In addition, there are no local confirmed or probable cases.

Dale Peters, public information officer for the Eau Claire city/county health department, said there were 12 people in Eau Claire County that were being tested through the state laboratory of hygiene, one of which came back negative.

Due to the outbreak beginning in April, organizations at national and international levels have taken precautions to prepare for the virus. On a local level, the city/county health department of Eau Claire, UW-Eau Claire and local medical facilities have made similar preparations.

Peters said in a statement that plans have been activated for the county to deal with the outbreak and follow the guidelines of the incident command system, a formal procedure for managing large-scale events that impact the safety and health of the community.

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To facilitate communication regarding the virus, Peters said a joint information center has been composed of public information personnel from the medical facilities of Eau Claire and education centers, including UW-Eau Claire.

Peters said that while the steps the planning department are taking is not new, this is the first time a joint information system has been activated for a biological event.

Like the city, the university has taken measures to protect students. Last week, Student Health Services sent out a mass e-mail to the university advising students about precautionary health measures.

“We felt it was important that students have a status report of hearing it in the media . what’s going on here,” said Laura Chellman, director of Student Health Services, adding that the university is staying in contact with administration and the state health department.

Regardless, Chellman said there has been some student concern and phone calls about the outbreak, but it’s been helpful to share information and testing criteria for the virus. This includes symptoms characteristic of influenza (fever greater than 100 degrees, cough or sore throat, myalgia), return from infected areas with seven days prior to the onset of symptoms or contact with ill person from infected areas.

“Hopefully, it will allay some fears,” she said.

Chellman added that if students are concerned about their health, they should call before coming in, which most medical facilities are asking so they can give instructions first.

Like Student Health Services, Luther Midelfort-Mayo Health Systems, 1400 Bellinger St., has seen an increase in concerned phone calls, but not a surge of inpatients. Paul Meznarich, a media relations coordinator at Luther Midelfort, said the hospital has participated in practice drills in case of situations like the current outbreak and stay in contact with their sister facilities.

“We’re really feeling good about the things we’re doing to prepare ourselves in case things do escalate,” he said. “We’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to handle that.”

To take preventative measures, the CDC advises people to cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, wash hands, avoid touching the nose and mouth, and to stay home if sick in order to prevent virus spreading.

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City, state prepare against H1N1