With cases of Swine flu among University of Wisconsin students becoming virtually nonexistent in recent weeks, Dane County and Public Health-Madison jointly released a report Monday detailing efforts to immunize large parts of the Dane County population.
Craig Roberts, epidemiologist at UHS, said there have been no confirmed cases of the illness so far this semester, although lab results are pending for one student.
Roberts said such a decrease in the number of people reporting flu-like symptoms is a commonality not only in Wisconsin, but also in the United States as a whole.
While about 7,200 people have received vaccinations from UHS since October, Roberts attributed the lapse period to a characteristic of influenza itself.
“The epidemiology of the disease is such that it tends to occur in waves,” he said.
Should the disease rear its head again, Roberts said having such a large percentage of the campus population immune would decrease the severity of the outbreak.
According to a report issued by the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, there were 104 hospitalizations in Dane County from Aug. 30, 2009 to Jan. 2, 2010 for 2009 H1N1 infections. Statewide, there were 1,071 hospitalizations.
The Bureau of Communicable Diseases at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health found significant racial disparities in H1N1 hospitalization rates. In Dane County, Caucasians were hospitalized at a rate of 13 per 100,000. Blacks were hospitalized at a rate of 40.2 and Hispanics at a rate of 33.6.
Since October, PHMDC has administered 30,635 H1N1 immunizations throughout Dane County, providing immunizations at 156 sites throughout the county during the fall of 2009, a report issued Monday said.
David Caes, PHMDC operation manager, said as of Feb. 12, the department has spent $685,000 on H1N1 clinics. This figure encompasses all operating costs from staff salary and benefits, to mileage, supplies and signage.
Caes said the 30,635 H1N1 immunizations provided to the public cost an average of $22.21 per patient.
“[PHMDC] did some quite unprecedented things,” Jeff Golden, spokesperson for PHMDC, said.
Golden cited 6,000 immunizations administered in one day at the Alliant Energy Center.
Golden said H1N1 offered a particular communication challenge, stating children are more at risk, as opposed to the usual high-risk older adult population. This could be due to the fact that the older population may have been exposed to H1N1 in the past and acquired some immunity through that exposure.
Long-term, H1N1 will replace the current strain of seasonal flu and most likely mutate, Roberts said.
“It’ll be the predominant flu virus that will continue next year and probably the year after, but we’ll begin to refer to it as the seasonal strain rather than the pandemic strain,” he said.
Roberts added the strain of H1N1 that will be present in five years would most likely be genetically distinct enough from the current strain that immunity against it may have declined significantly.
The H1N1 vaccine is still available by appointment at UHS and will continue to be throughout the semester.