Influenza-like illnesses, assumed to be primarily pandemic H1N1 influenza, continued to increase on college campuses last week, although the rate has slowed. A total of 9,128 new cases were reported in the week ending Oct. 30 at the 274 colleges and universities reporting to the American College Health Assn., an increase of 2% from the previous week. Twenty-five hospitalizations were reported, but no deaths. That brings the totals for the academic year to more than 65,000 cases and 123 hospitalizations among the 3 million students at the reporting campuses.
During the month of October, 43% of the institutions said they had received at least some swine flu vaccine. A total of 30,464 doses had been administered, reaching just 1% of the student population.
In other flu news:
- A cat in Iowa has been diagnosed with a laboratory-confirmed case of swine flu, according to the American Veterinary Medical Assn. Other household pets, including ferrets, have been known to contract the virus, but this is the first cat confirmed to have the disease. The cat was believed to have been infected by a member of the household, and has recovered completely. The U. S. Department of Agriculture also said today that four pigs in a commercial herd in Indiana were found to have the virus, the second such outbreak in the United States. Last month, the virus was found in show pigs at the Minnesota State Fair.
- Two Democratic representatives from California, George Miller and Lynn Woolsey, on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require employers to provide five days of paid leave for sick employees sent home because of swine flu. About half of U.S. workers, most of them in low-paid jobs, do not have access to sick leave. Miller and Woolsey argue that the bill would actually save employers money by reducing the spread of the flu. The CDC estimates that a sick worker will infect as many as 10 co-workers. Hearings on the bill are expected to begin the week of Nov. 16.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II