Updated Tuesday, May 5, 2009

College officials continue to be in contact with the Ottawa County Health Department on the matter of H1N1 and Hope College. This afternoon (Tuesday), at approximately 2 p.m., the Ottawa County Health Department notified Hope College that they were told by the Michigan Department of Community Health that six cases of Influenza A H1N1 (Swine Flu), have been confirmed. These six cases are those initially identified as probable from samples submitted voluntarily by the Hope College Health Center. Results of three additional cases from Hope College are still pending confirmation.

The Hope College Health Center reports there have been no new suspected cases reported to them for the past seven days. The academic year has concluded. The college's May Term is underway. All activities and events are occurring as scheduled.

Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 & Updated Monday, May 4, 2009

Several Hope College students visited the college health center during the past two weeks with flu-like symptoms. The health center, as a matter of practice, is very proactive in doing routine tests and voluntarily shares this information with the Ottawa County Health Department. The college was notified Friday that nine of the ten  cases submitted for testing were identified as "probable" H1N1. These have been forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for further testing.  The results of those tests are not known at this time.

All of the students, most of whom have returned to their homes for the summer, have been notified. All seem to have recovered from their illnesses.

Hope College officials continue to be in contact with the Ottawa County Health Department.

The regular school year has concluded. May Term begins today as scheduled. Faculty, staff and students are reminded of the importance of good hygiene practices for illness prevention.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MCDH) informed the Ottawa County Health Department (OCHD) and the public of six probable cases of H1N1, since that time MCDH has informed the OCHD of five more probable cases, bringing the total to 11.  Probable cases are forwarded to the Centers for Diease Control (CDC) for additional testing to confirm the presence of H1N1.

The State did not release any details regarding these probable cases because the health department was working with local health providers (including HopeCollege)  to notify those who were personally affected.  These probable cases were part of a cluster of cases involving students from Hope College.

Hope College is a voluntary sentinel provider site, therefore, it is more likely to have a cluster of cases than perhaps other colleges and universities who are not sentinel providers.  These sites are generally doing more testing, and their tracking is more comprehensive than other similar environments.

H1N1 has been heavily reported in the media and has created concern for many Ottawa County Residents; we want to assure you that this situation is no cause for alarm.

For the most part, surveillance is showing this virus to have a low level of severity. For most in the US, the severity of symptoms has been similar to seasonal influenza.  Upon notification of the individuals affected, we have determined that all contacted cases in this cluster are doing well.  

The Ottawa County Health Department has consulted with the Michigan Department of Community Health regarding a mitigation response. Based on those discussions, and the guidance of State Health Officials, we are not recommending the closure or cancellation of events taking place on or near the Hope College campus, including Tulip Time activities.

We have been in close contact with Hope College and the City of Holland whose primary concern is the health and safety of Ottawa County residents and visitors. 

There are many community events scheduled for this weekend in the Holland area. and we strongly recommend those attending to practice the following measures:

° Wash your hands often with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, 60% alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

° Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

° If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

° Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Ottawa County Health Department website: