CDC investigators go to University of Michigan over flu outbreak

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will go to the University of Michigan to investigate the campus flu outbreak and study how the disease is spreading.

Since the first positive flu case was found on the Ann Arbor campus on October 6, a total of 528 flu cases have been diagnosed with the University Health Service (UHS), according to a statement from the university.

77 percent of these cases were among people who did not get a flu shot.

According to the UHS, there has been an increase in flu cases in the past two weeks: in the week of November 8, 313 cases were reported with a test positive rate of 37 percent and the previous week 198 cases with a test positive rate of 27 percent.

In light of the surge in cases, the university announced Monday that starting this week, the Washtenaw County Department of Health, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the university and a team from the CDC will begin investigating the influx of cases like the one Disease is spreading and how effective the flu vaccine is.

The CDC team will conduct its study using data analysis, questionnaires and sample collections from patients at the UHS.

“By promptly detecting and working with county and state health officials, as well as researchers from the School of Public Health and Michigan Medicine, we quickly identified these cases as influenza A (H3N2) virus infections,” said Lindsey Mortenson, UHS medical director and acting director said in a statement.

“Partnering with the CDC will accelerate our understanding of how this flu season may play out regionally and nationally as part of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

The university said officials are urging the college community to get their flu vaccine, highlighting the protection it offers from serious illness, hospitalization and death, as well as the role it plays in containing the spread of the disease .

Juan Luis Marquez, the medical director of the Washtenaw County Health Department, said the current outbreak on Michigan campus was “unusual” although it is normal to see flu activity at the time.

“We are grateful for the additional support from the CDC and our ongoing partnership with the university as we further investigate the situation,” he added.

However, the university said the timing of the outbreak is significant as students prepare to head home for Thanksgiving break across the country.

The university campus outbreak comes after a low number of flu cases occurred last winter season, despite predictions that the disease would spread rapidly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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