Three of the nine cases of influenza reported at the Harvard Dental School earlier this week were confirmed as H1N1 “swine flu” yesterday after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health received notice from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where the testing was conducted.
Since the announcement of the original cluster of nine cases on Friday, no new suspected cases have been identified among Harvard faculty, staff, and students, allaying fears of an impending epidemic.
As a result, the Harvard Medical School resumed full clinical and classroom functioning as of yesterday, according to David S. Rosenthal ’59, director of Harvard University Health Services.
Rosenthal said that the notification from the DPH would mean that classes at the Dental School—along with all faculty and student clinical activity at the Harvard Dental Center—will remain suspended until tomorrow, following a plan laid out last Friday.
“If things stay stable, hopefully they’ll [both] be open on Thursday,” Rosenthal said, also noting that all of the infected students were making full recoveries.
The three Harvard cases join a total of 34 cases in Massachusetts, a figure that officials say has ballooned over the week due to the newly-acquired availability of highly specific testing within the Boston area’s state lab. None of the cases in Massachusetts have led to fatalities, though three patients were forced to seek hospital treatment.
Rosenthal addressed concerns— raised at last Friday’s press conference held by members of the Boston Public Health Commission—that patients treated by the infected students as part of their clinical rotations could be at risk of infection themselves.
Rosenthal said that all of those patients had been informed of the exposure and were advised to seek prompt treatment if they developed symptoms, though he called the risk of transmission “relatively low” due to the masks and gloves worn by students during the course of rotations.
—Staff writer Edward-Michael Dussom can be reached at email@example.com.