Colleges Prepare for Swine Flu

Aware that crowded campuses are ideal for outbreaks, health officials make contingency plans.

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Swine flu has not hit U.S. college campuses, but campus health officials—aware that colleges are ideal environments for outbreaks—are building contingency plans in the case of an event. Schools are prepared to cancel travel or impose quarantines as local and federal authorities require. Health clinics are on the lookout for flulike symptoms. Officials have told students to "be alert and cautious but not panic" and have offered some very pragmatic advice: Wash your hands.

A handful of colleges have cancelled study abroad programs in Mexico (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Pennsylvania State University-Altoona, Suffolk University), and schools near the U.S.-Mexico border are on slightly higher alert, with schools like University of Texas - El Paso forming flu task forces. At the moment, what's actually more worrisome than the fear of an outbreak is what commuting students from Mexico (UTEP has around 1,500) will do if border controls tighten. So far, much of the action is wait-and-see. "There is no need to panic or to take drastic action," said UTEP's president. "We all need to learn more about this thing."