- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RICHMOND — The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in Virginia has jumped to 11, including seven at Washington & Lee University, state officials said Wednesday.

None of the patients has been hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering well, said Dr. Jim Burns, the state’s deputy commissioner for public health. He said authorities now regard the H1N1 flu as it would a typical seasonal influenza.

“We’re treating it now as a second flu season,” Dr. Burns said in a conference call with reporters.

The state began its own tests Monday after receiving testing kits last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At Washington & Lee in Lexington, five men and two women were confirmed to have the virus. Spokesman Jeff Hanna declined to disclose whether all were students, but said “all of them have been treated at Student Health.”

Dr. Burns said the virus was “probably introduced more than one time” on campus as students returned to classes April 20 from various spring-break destinations.

University health officials, who were monitoring outbreak developments, had advised those returning to Lexington to take precautions against flu transmission, Mr. Hanna said.

“We knew our calendar was such that when this outbreak was first announced, we were on alert because our students were just coming back from spring break,” he said. “Students are far more mobile than ever before.”

Health officials said the others were a man and a woman in the Chesterfield health district; a man in the Three Rivers district, which covers the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck; and a preschool girl in the Norfolk district. Three of the 11 cases were confirmed previously.

A Norfolk preschool that closed Monday as a result of the case there reopened Wednesday. The CDC has advised schools not to close if there is a probable or confirmed case.

Swine flu has sickened more than 1,750 people worldwide, including more than 600 in the United States. Two people have died from the disease in the U.S., including a toddler visiting from Mexico, where swine flu has killed 42 people.

By comparison, typical flu kills about 36,000 each year nationwide.

Dr. Burns said the state will limit testing to those at a higher risk for complications, including those hospitalized with flulike illnesses, pregnant women, the elderly, young children, health care workers and those with chronic health conditions.

Virginia continues to operate a call center to field questions about swine flu. The number is 877/ASK-VDH3.

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