ORONO, Maine — Just a handful of cases of the H1N1 swine flu have been reported at the University of Maine, but campus spokesman Joe Carr said Wednesday that more individuals have likely been stricken.
“We acknowledge it is likely that others have developed symptoms,” Carr said. But since students returned to campus at the end of August, only five individuals have reported their illness to the UMaine H1N1 Web site, he said.
Of the five cases reported to date, Carr said three are students and two are nonfaculty staff members. Two of the students live on campus: one in Cumberland Hall and one in Balentine Hall.
The university H1N1 policy does not require residential students to leave campus if they are stricken, Carr said.
“We do encourage students who are in a position to travel safely to go somewhere else to recuperate,” he said. “It is probably better for them and they are less likely to expose others.” Carr said he did not know whether the two on-campus students had remained in their dorms.
University policy calls for residential students with H1N1 symptoms — fever, cough or sore throat, and general aches and pains — to stay away from classes and in their dorm rooms until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
Carr said rumors this week of a larger outbreak on campus are false.
“We are certain there are no clusters [of the virus] on the campus,” he said. The number of flu-related student visits to the Cutler Health Center on campus has not been “significant or surprising,” Carr said.
According to a Sept. 10 update from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine has confirmed 370 cases of H1N1, which include 19 individuals requiring hospitalization and one individual who has died.
In addition, at least 29 students at Bowdoin College in Brunswick were sickened after classes there resumed this month.
The number of laboratory-confirmed cases is only a barometer of H1N1 transmission, because few people with symptoms are tested.