Eight students at DePauw University have tested positive for the flu virus this week, and samples from five of those students were sent to the Indiana Board of Health to be tested for the swine flu virus (influenza A (H1N1) virus).
Dr. Scott Ripple, medical director of the university's Wellness Center, said the university does not have the capacity to test for swine flu.
"One of the specimens has come back and was negative (for swine flu)," he said on Thursday afternoon. "I hope to have the rest of the results back within 48 hours."
Ripple said he based his decisions on which specimens to send to Indianapolis for testing on several factors.
"Part of it was how long (the students) had been sick," he said. "I wanted to send good specimens."
Ripple said the sick students "have been relocated from their campus residences to more secluded housing and will be kept out of classes while they are contagious in order to limit the spread of the virus."
"Since cases of North American A (H1N1) flu are being reported in this country and since experts have not yet determined how this virus behaves in humans, we are being extra cautious to prevent the spread of any flu viruses on campus," Ripple said. "I am glad to report that most of these students with flu have had minor illnesses and are recovering without complications. None have been seriously ill."
Coatesville pork producer Mark Legan said it was important for the public to understand that "swine flu" is a misnomer.
"The World Health Organization claims that the proper name for this virus should be North American influenza, not swine flu," he said. "The best we understand is that viruses are named after the animal they are first found in. This particular virus was isolated in a pig in 1930, thus the name 'swine flu' has stuck."
Legan said to his knowledge no pigs in the United States or Mexico have been found to be currently sick or infected with the virus.
"It is not known for sure if this new strain of the virus will even cause any type of illness in pigs," he said. "Based on the information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, even if the virus was found in pigs the flu cannot be contracted from pork and pork products. Additionally, we have stepped up our bio-security measures to protect our employees and the welfare of our animals."
Legan encouraged anyone with additional questions about pork products and their connection to influenza A to call him at 246-6426 or visit Pork.org.
"We take seriously our role as responsible members of our community," he said.
Ripple said the Wellness Center had already been busy with "routine cough and colds" before increased nationwide numbers of swine flu cases began being reported last week.
"We've gotten slightly busier than normal, but we're not overwhelmed," he said.
A release from the Putnam County Health Department said the department, along with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, "are closely monitoring cases of influenza A (H1N1) virus infection identified in the United States."
Officials have been reminding the public that influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the influenza A infections. However, at this time it has not been determined how easily the virus spreads between people.
Symptoms that indicate influenza rather than a cold or other illness include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people diagnosed with influenza A have also reported runny noses, sore throats, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
"It's too early to be classified as a pandemic," said Joe Wainscott, executive director of IDHS. "Each of us can make a difference. Limiting contact with others can help slow the spread of illness. Together, we can help protect ourselves, our families and our communities. In most instances of the flu, those suffering can be cared for at home. Be aware, plan ahead and share with others what you have learned."