Health department shuts down swine flu hotline

The Indiana State Department of Health has shut down its swine flu telephone hot line that it started up last fall.

State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin says the agency continues to monitor the pandemic and will reactivate the phone line if necessary.

The health department has recorded 39 swine flu-related deaths in Indiana since June. It says the frequency of the illness has receded.

Larkin cautions that the swine flu has not gone away. He urges vaccination, especially for pregnant women, people with certain health conditions and those 65 and older.

At Ball State University, the Amelia T. Wood Health Center discarded a few hundred doses of the vaccine in March after they expired. Medical Director Kent Bullis said the last time anyone asked for an H1N1 vaccine was the week of Feb. 8.

When he ordered the vaccines, Bullis was hoping about 30 percent to 50 percent of students would get vaccinated. But only 2,325 students between Fall and Spring Semesters went to the Health Center for vaccination, which is a little more than 10 percent. The average for schools around the nation was about 6 percent, he said.

"I was somewhat disappointed in the number of students who decided to get the vaccine," he said. "In retrospect, given the big picture, the swine flu ended up being relatively mild. ... I don't know if it makes much of a difference, but I was disappointed."

The Health Center diagnosed 613 students with the flu in the Fall Semester and 50 in the Spring Semester. It didn't test the majority for the H1N1 strain because each test would have cost several hundred dollars. But the state found that about 90 percent of flu cases in the past flu season were the H1N1 strain.

Bullis said, clinically speaking, there is little difference between the seasonal flu and H1N1.


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