Local News

Duke readies for the flu

Posted August 18, 2009 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2009 7:45 p.m. EDT

— With students arriving at Duke University for the fall semester, the school is taking precautions to help minimize the risk of contracting the flu.

Duke canceled two of its summer youth programs after more than 25 students tested positive for influenza. The vast majority of those cases were mild to moderate, according to the school. Some of Duke’s football players also become ill with the virus last week, according to coach David Cutcliffe.

"Universities are in many cases the ideal breeding ground for influenza,” Duke Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld said.

To help minimize risk, the school is providing hand sanitizers and tissues at multiple locations, and putting up posters about ways to prevent the flu.

Schoenfeld said Duke is trying hard to teach students how to stay healthy.

"If you don't feel well, stay home,” Schoenfeld advised.

The university has contacted students with health issues who could be at greater risk of influenza, as well as e-mailed all students to be aware of flu symptoms.

"Just be careful, you know a lot of people are getting it,” Duke freshman Charlie Jordan said of the influenza warning.

"Wash hands a lot. Don’t drink what other people drank, just kind of normal stuff,” Duke freshman Suvam Neupane said.

Alexis Rogers was in summer school when a camp session was canceled on Duke's campus due to swine flu.

"I was here when that whole epidemic happened and how they were quarantining people off and stuff,” Rogers recalled.

Schoenfeld said Duke learned a lot from dealing with the flu over the summer. The campus wants to make sure it is well prepared for a possible outbreak.

"There's probably been more time spent over the summer working on preparations for the flu than just about anything else we were doing,” Schoenfeld said.

Preparations that make some students and parents feel more at ease.

"I feel like they (school leaders) are on top of things and I feel like ... it's a great place with the hospital being close by,” said Carol Jordan, Charlie’s mother.

Duke has also set up a Web site dedicated to informing parents, faculty and students about the flu and how to prevent it.

Schoenfeld said the university will send out an alert on how to get a seasonal flu vaccine, and plans to offer the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.