With more than 100 cases of pneumonia reported in the last month alone, the University of Wisconsin issued a warning to its students Wednesday of an outbreak ahead of finals week.
University Health Services Director Sarah Van Orman said UW has seen an increase in pneumonia cases compared to past annual records.
Forty-five total cases in the fall and winter season are normal, but within the last month UHS has encountered close to 100 cases, she said.
UW Health officials worked with the Wisconsin State Health Department, and lab tests confirmed mycoplasma pneumoniae as the primary bacteria causing the outbreak, Van Orman said. The Wisconsin State Health Department also confirmed that particular bacterium was the origin of the outbreak, she said.
According to Van Orman, the bacterium is common on college campuses.
However, the concern lies in this year’s annual rate, which has yielded twice the amount of cases compared to before, she said.
Because the organism is present, there is possibility of it spreading person-to-person, Van Orman said. Pneumonia, which is a lung infection that spreads through respiratory droplets, can include symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath and fevers that can reach temperatures of more that 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Colleges see a lot of outbreaks because many people gather in close settings due to classes and living arrangements,” she said.
However, because this form of pneumonia is common, it can be easily treated as long as it is taken care of in its beginning stages, Van Orman said.
Diagnosis is determined by a physical examination that includes a chest X-Ray and listening to the lungs. If confirmed, antibiotics, lots of rest and time are normal for treatment, the UHS web page said.
Students are advised to wash their hands, sneeze into the elbow zone and stay home if they are feeling sick, Van Orman said, adding students should go to UHS if they are feeling any symptoms of pneumonia.