ENMU official: Ill students had flu in same category as H1N1

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

The presumed H1N1 cases at Eastern New Mexico University have not been confirmed as such, though information was distributed announcing confirmed cases.

ENMU Vice President of Student Affairs Judith Haislett said two students tested positive for influenza A, a type of flu virus that includes H1N1, also known as swine flu. Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control direct universities to treat influenza A cases that involve H1N1 symptoms as instances of swine flu, she said.

Samples have been sent to the state Department of Health to determine if the students actually had H1N1.

Kristin Kuhlmann, a nurse practitioner at the university’s Student Health Center, said more than 99 percent of influenza A cases at this time of year are swine flu. She expects results from confirmation tests in about a week.

Haislett said the university is still following the same plan to handle H1N1.

“If we waited … there would be a whole lot of people exposed and not alerted,” she said.

Kuhlmann said patients with influenza A needed to be isolated whether or not they have H1N1.

Roosevelt General Hospital administrator James D’Agostino and family practitioner Dr. Bert Wofford called the university after reading that sick students had gone home with their parents.

Wofford said that implied the students were still ill when confirmation of H1N1 came. The confirmation process takes so long that patients have recovered or died by the time a case is confirmed as swine flu, he said.

Haislett said she appreciated the help from RGH and the issue arose from a difference of interpretation.

“So I think we’re both right on that,” she said.

Haislett said the mass e-mail and Web site announcement should have said “suspected” or “presumed” cases of H1N1. The Web site information has been corrected.