The H1N1 virus continued its rampant spread across campus this week, bringing the total number of suspected cases among students to 116 as of Thursday afternoon.
When the Orient spoke to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster on Tuesday morning, 55 students had fallen ill with flu-like symptoms.
By Thursday afternoon, that number had more than doubled.
"The last three days have been very busy," said Foster late on Thursday.
According to Foster, of the 116 students who have been diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, 53 have recovered and are back in classes and dining halls.
Of the 63 students that are currently sick, 38 of them are in isolation at Bowdoin. Eight students are isolated on the third floor of Chamberlain Hall, six students are in Dudley Coe, and 24 students are in their single bedrooms in on-campus residences.
Twenty-five students are recuperating off campus. Eight are in off-campus residences and 17 are at home.
Though students continue to be placed in quarantine in Chamberlain Hall and Dudley Coe, administrators hope to transfer all isolated students to the Peter Buck Center for Health and Wellness next Thursday, after the building opens on Tuesday.
"Whether we do that would be dictated by how many people are ill and need isolation come next week," said Foster. "We'll first move out of Coe, and then out of Chamberlain if we're able to."
Students who present symptoms are no longer being tested for H1N1 given that the virus was confirmed on campus last Wednesday.
"What the state says by [its] protocol is once [it] confirm[s] an outbreak, you should anticipate that other people presenting with these symptoms are also H1N1 and you should treat them accordingly," said Foster.
"Some of the students undoubtedly have flu-like symptoms—they may have a very bad cold, they could even have the seasonal flu, but they don't necessarily have H1N1," he added.
The H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive on campus in mid-October, but the seasonal flu vaccine should be available within days.
"We are expecting our batch any day now, and we will be strongly encouraging students to get their seasonal flu vaccine," said Foster. "We'll target at-risk populations first, and we already have a database service. Those people will be invited to come be vaccinated before others."
The same method will likely apply to H1N1 vaccinations, but Foster stressed there will be enough vaccine to go around to all students.
"We will have enough doses to vaccinate every student on campus who wants to be vaccinated for the seasonal flu, and then also for H1N1," he said.
According to Director of Communications Scott Hood, plans for the vaccine's distribution have been in flux since last week's news that one dose of the vaccine, rather than two, may sufficiently immunize an individual.
"Originally, we were going to get a limited supply upfront and so people who had compromised situations or chronic illnesses were going to be offered the vaccination first," said Hood. "Now that you only need one shot I don't know whether we will get a larger quantity and therefore anyone can get it right away."
According to Hood, the vaccine will eventually be available to all students because they all "fall within the 6-month to 24-year risk group."
Demand for the vaccine may greatly depend on how soon it arrives on campus.
"The [flu] may run its course by the time the vaccine gets to us," said Hood. "If you get it and recover, you're not going to get it again, at least in this form."
While Bowdoin anticipates some form of relief from the virus, other universities and colleges in Maine have yet to see a widespread H1N1 infection among students.
Director of University Relations at the University of Maine Joe Carr said that there have been no confirmed cases of swine flu on campus and only five suspected cases, three of which were students and two of which were staff.
Despite having avoided major outbreak thus far, Carr said that it is not likely that health will remain so robust given the student body of approximately 12,000.
"We fully expect that it will become an issue in the next few months and perhaps a significant one, but we've worked hard since last April to be prepared," said Carr.
According to Carr, the University has developed "several layers of planning" in the event that a significant number of students fall ill. Rather than isolating students who are sick, the University plans to isolate healthy individuals who are considered to be at higher risk of complications from the virus.
Due to the size of University of Maine's student body, Carr said that "isolating large numbers of sick people is impractical."
Like the University of Maine, Bates College has had only a few suspected cases so far.
"We have no positive H1N1 cultures yet, but we have had six cases of 'Influenza-Like Illness' (ILI) that are being evaluated by the state lab," said Bates College Director of Communications and Media Relations Bryan McNulty.
ILI is defined by Bates as fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sore throat or cough.
According to McNulty, administrators at Bates are encouraging the families of students with ILI that live within reasonable distance to pick them up.
"For any students with ILI, we ask that families that live within 300 miles pick up them up to recuperate at home, and that the students return when they are fever-free for 24 hours, without medications," he said.
Bates has also allocated several spots on campus for quarantine.
"If necessary, we have six designated College-owned isolation houses," Mullity said. "We have four students in two of those houses today, and two students recuperating at their homes."
At Colby College in Waterville, ME, Director of Communications David Eaton said that although the school is not testing for H1N1, students have begun to present symptoms of illness.
"As of this morning, there were 21 students with ILI—Influenza-like-Illness," said Eaton. "We're asking students to self-isolate—stay in their rooms. And we're making arrangements to get them meals out of our dining halls."
"At least as of today, the symptoms are relatively mild and they don't last all that long," said Eaton.
Though in comparison to other Maine colleges, Bowdoin has been the hardest hit by swine flu, Foster said he did not think that would remain the case permanently.
"I'm not surprised by the fact that we've encountered H1N1," he said. "We expected that to be the case, and I would feel for other places that it is a matter of 'when,' and not a matter of 'if.'"
"Once it appears on the campus, it is highly contagious," he added. "I think it's very difficult even with the best practices in place to contain it."