A spokesperson from Madison Area Technical College just called to say three students at the school have confirmed cases of the novel H1N1 virus. That's the influenza virus which was previously known as the swine flu as it made its way through Wisconsin and other parts of the United States and Mexico this spring.
As the http://host.madison.com/ct/article_d3b37420-9ca3-11de-b559-001cc4c03286.html"> Cap Times reported Tuesday, this virus already is sweeping across the UW-Madison campus.
In an effort to keep the flu from spreading even further, university officials are asking students, faculty and staff with flu-like symptoms to stay home.
The good news, as University Health Services epidemiologist Craig Roberts told the Cap Times Tuesday, is that for most students, this is a fairly mild to moderate illness.
"Probably at this point, anyway, it's milder than most seasonal influenza that we've seen before," Roberts said. "But that could always change and illness has the potential for being more severe. Right now, people are usually doing quite well and are better within a few days."
Nationally, the number of students coming down with the H1N1 virus continues to surge, as a http://www.acha.org/ILI_Surveillance.cfm">weekly survey by the American College Health Association reports that 73 percent of the schools responding to the most recent survey had students displaying "influenza-like illness."
On another flu-related note, the Associated Press reported early Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin System is moving to suspend a rule that requires employees who miss five or more straight days of work due to illness to turn in a note from their doctor.
The move is an effort to help campuses better handle the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
The Board of Regents is expected to vote Friday to suspend the doctor's note requirement for employees with the flu or flu-like symptoms this academic year. The regents are holding their monthly meeting Thursday and Friday at UW-Whitewater.
This proposal comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advised universities not to require a doctor's note for sick students and employees, saying doctors might be too busy and unable to easily provide documentation.
From here, it's a bit surprising that workers within the UW System are required to turn in a note from their doctor if they are sick for more than five days at a time. That seems a bit, um, middle schoolish.
The AP reported that the regents approved the doctor's note requirement in 2005 after a former UW-Madison administrator used months of sick leave when he wasn't ill.