ISU student from Marshalltown is diagnosed with Type A flu; testing under way

AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University freshman from Marshalltown has tested positive for Influenza Type A. The 18-year-old female recuperated at home over the weekend and (per Centers for Disease Control guidelines) has returned to campus.

Influenza Type A is common, says Michelle Hendricks, director of ISU's Thielen Student Health Center. The health center has diagnosed at least 38 cases of Type A flu since February. The Iowa Department of Public Health has tested 514 cases of Type A flu since April 28. Of those, one has been confirmed as novel influenza A, or the H1N1 virus. Seven other cases have been reported as probable.

Hendricks said ISU officials are carefully monitoring the Marshalltown student's case "out of an abundance of caution" because she had visited Marshalltown April 25-26, shortly before becoming ill.

The ISU student exhibited flu-like symptoms during a visit to the Thielen Student Health Center on Friday, May 1. A rapid flu test determined the student had Influenza Type A, which could be either common, seasonal flu, or the more rare novel influenza A (H1N1). The sample was forwarded to the state hygienic laboratory as a matter of standard procedure, according to Hendricks. The student was advised to rest at home over the weekend.

Results are expected back from the state hygienic laboratory by Tuesday. Those results will determine whether further testing will be required by the Centers for Disease Control.

Hendricks confirmed that the student was seen for a follow-up appointment at the health center late Monday, May 4. Although this particular case of the flu does not meet the definition of a "suspected case" of H1N1 (according to CDC criteria), the student is still coughing, and therefore will not return to class. She will make arrangements to complete her finals remotely and/or at a later date.

There is no known, direct connection between the ISU student and any of the six probable H1N1 cases in Marshall County, Hendricks added.

The student lives in Helser Hall on the ISU campus. As a part of her normal routine last week, she attended class and had meals at ISU Dining facilities. On April 29, she also visited the Child Development Laboratory School, located in the Palmer Human Development and Family Studies Building on the Iowa State campus. She was in an observation room but had no direct contact with any of the children.

Child Development Lab School Administrator Karri Kerns said that parents of children who attend the daycare facility were notified of the situation this afternoon (Monday, May 4). She recommends that parents continue to monitor their children's health, and be vigilant about good hygiene (covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently, and avoiding close contact with anyone who may be sick).

The affected ISU student participated in a public health interview by phone this afternoon. Those who may have had close contact with her will be notified.

"It is highly unlikely that this will come back as anything but seasonal influenza," Hendricks said. "However, we want to err on the side of caution. We feel it's important to keep students, faculty, staff and visitors informed about the possibility of H1N1 affecting our community, however remote that possibility may be."

Students are taking final exams at Iowa State this week, and all normal activities are being held as usual -- including commencement, which is scheduled for this weekend.

Students have been advised not to attend final exams if they are ill with flu-like symptoms. It is each student's responsibility to contact his or her instructor immediately to make other arrangements. More information is available at:

Students, faculty and staff who feel ill or have questions about their health should call the Thielen Student Health Center at (515) 294-5801, Mary Greeley Medical Center at (515) 239-2011, or their preferred healthcare provider(s).