CDC Investigating Flu Outbreak at University of Michigan
Since Oct. 6, there have been 528 total cases diagnosed at the school. During the week of Nov. 8 alone, 313 cases were identified.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has descended on the University of Michigan to investigate a substantial increase in flu cases on campus.
During the week of Nov. 8 alone, 313 cases were identified with a 37% test positivity, reports Yahoo. The prior week saw 198 cases with a 27.2% test positivity. Since Oct. 6, there have been 528 total cases diagnosed at the University Health Service. The cases were identified as influenza A (H3N2).
“While we often start to see some flu activity now, the size of this outbreak is unusual,” said Juan Luis Marquez, medical director at the Washtenaw County Health Department. “We’re grateful for the additional support of the CDC and our ongoing partnership with the university as we look more closely at the situation.”
The local health department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the university will be assisting the CDC this week. During its investigation, the team will be evaluating flu vaccine uptake, vaccine effectiveness and risk factors for spread through data analysis, questionnaires and sample collection of infected patients.
According to a press release from the school, the opportunity to learn more about the outbreak is made possible through a request for Epidemiologic Assistance (Epi-Aid), which is an investigation of an urgent public health problem. Epi-Aid “allows rapid, short-term (1-3 weeks), generally onsite, technical assistance by Epidemic Intelligence Service officers and other CDC subject matter experts.”
Health officials are particularly concerned about the timing of the increase since many students will be traveling for Thanksgiving break, and are asking people to get vaccinated. Of those who have been diagnosed at the university, 77% didn’t receive the vaccine.
“This outbreak doesn’t necessarily have an immediate impact on the broader local community, but it does raise concerns about what the flu season may bring,” said Marquez. “Most importantly, we strongly recommend anyone not yet vaccinated against seasonal flu to do so. And anyone at higher risk of severe flu complications should talk to their doctor about prescription antiviral medications at the first sign of flu symptoms.”
As of Nov. 6, the state health department reported 20% of Michiganders had gotten the flu shot compared to 31% in the same time frame last year.