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Virginia Tech Not Affected by Swine Flu, So Far

The Virginia Tech football team has not yet been touched by the H1N1 virus that has affected many colleges and their athletes. The athletic department’s team doctors have been aggressive in testing for the virus, known as the swine flu, and all of the Hokies’ teams are traveling with masks in order to protect the athletes in the event their teammate should come down with the illness.

“We’re looking out for it very, very closely,” Gunnar Brolinson, the Hokies’ chief of sports medicine, told reporters on Monday. “But we’ve not had any cases here yet at Virginia Tech among our student athletes.”

Bronlinson said there have been eight to 10 cases of the swine flu on Virginia Tech’s campus.

Speaking about athletes, he said “we’ve tested a few guys” but none were positive for the virus. It is likely only a matter of time, he said, before cases crop up among members of the Hokies’ sports teams.

“There’ve been lots of other college campuses across the country – especially in the Southeast area – where they’ve had outbreaks amongst sports teams,” Bronlinson said. “So I’m sure we’re going to see it.”

Several players on Alabama’s football team, for example, battled with the swine flu in the lead-up to the Sept. 5 game against the Hokies. The Crimson Tide won, 34-24.

Brolinson said Virginia Tech does not have a defined protocol for handling swine flu among its athletes. If athletes have symptoms above the neck – a sore throat, stuffy nose sinus congestion – they are typically treated and allowed to participate. Athletes with have symptoms involving the chest or are running a fever they are generally not cleared to participate.

“This year, because of the potential for the swine flu pandemic, as everybody is calling it, we’ve been more aggressive with testing,” Bronlinson said.

Bronlinson said Virginia Tech has masks aboard planes and busses should one of the athletes or staff members get sick. The goal, he said, was to “try to isolate him from the team as much as possible.”

In prior years, Bronlinson said, Virginia Tech has taken measures to promote hygiene among its athletes and to protect against the spread of infections. There is an antimicrobial solution that sprays automatically on the knob to the football locker room. There are also hand sanitizers located nearby.

No. 13 Virginia Tech (1-1) hosts No. 19 Nebraska (2-0) on Saturday.

By Mark Viera  |  September 15, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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