'Probable' Swine Flu Case At Harvard Dental School

After a student came down with what’s being called a “probable case” of swine flu, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and clinic will be closed Friday.

Public health officials say they became aware of the case Thursday afternoon. The student, who was not identified, is said to be in treatment and recovering. Anyone else who might have come in contact with the student have been notified and told to watch for symptoms.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who heads the Boston Public Health Commission, said the school and clinic will close temporarily as a precautionary measure and to make it easier for health officials to conduct an investigation.

“We are, of course, waiting for confirmation from CDC about this case — before we’re able to work with Harvard as to what other precautionary measures we may need to take,” Ferrer said.

Students at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine are being urged to stay home during the investigation.

There have been two confirmed cases of swine flu in Massachusetts — siblings from Lowell who are now recovering.

Officials at Amherst College in western Massachusetts said the campus would remain open despite two "probable" cases of swine flu there.

In a letter sent to the college community Thursday, president Anthony Marx said the state Department of Public Health had tested samples from two students and they came back as probable for H1N1. Marx said the school's director of public health has also identified four other recent flu cases that may be swine flu.

Marx said none of the cases was considered serious and that all of the students were responding to treatment.

"After consulting with state and other health officials, we have decided that the campus will continue to operate regularly, while we continue to closely monitor the situation," Marx said.

He said the school was canceling certain social activities, including all parties scheduled for the weekend.

A spokeswoman for the Boston Public Health Commission said a lab swab from the Harvard dental student had been sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for analysis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on April 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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