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September 8, 2009

UW football players hit with flu

MADISON, Wis. - The flu strain that is making its way around the Wisconsin campus and other areas of the country, has reared its head on the UW football team, according to university officials.

Dennis Helwig, head of sports medicine for Wisconsin, announced Tuesday evening that at least 10 players have been affected by some variation of the flu.

At this time, it is unknown whether it is the H1N1 strain while test results have yet to be returned. Helwig believes players ill with the virus will be able to recover within three-to-four days.

"As you know, we have been preparing for this for quite some time," Helwig said. "The University has put out all sorts of alerts to students and we've had talks to our student athletes about this.

"We felt it was coming because of everybody coming back to school. That's usually where you see an outbreak of symptoms."

Helwig made it clear that a couple of players were under the weather as early as Sunday. On Monday, a couple of more players fell sick only to see even more on Tuesday.

"We had some incidents and we've dealt with them according to the guidelines that have been established by the university," Helwig said. "We are following our physicians directions at how to take care of our individual athletes."

Any player affected by the illness has been isolated in hopes of slowing the spread. They have not been at practice and have been advised to stay in their place of residence until the symptoms subside.

As of Tuesday, head coach Bret Bielema did not release names of current players with the virus.

He did mention that both Gabe Carimi and Brendan Kelly had a bit of a bout with it, but have since recovered.

With the outbreak of the H1N1 virus last spring, it became commonplace for several schools and universities to make plans to deal with the problem. UW was no different and took action immediately.

"This isn't anything unusual or unexpected," Helwig said. "But certainly something that we've had to mobilize and teach everybody what they need to do."

With school back in session, the outbreak of flu is not specifically limited to the football team. Cases have been reported throughout the campus community now that all the students are back and the semester is underway.

According to Helwig, most cases reported on campus have lasted a relatively short period of time.

"Our physicians are taking all precautions," Helwig said. "We're continuing to monitor it. They tell us on campus and everything that is going around that this is a fairly short duration; three-to-four days.

"So, we're on top of anybody that has it, when they've had it and what they're symptoms are."

At this juncture, the team is still practicing and preparing for its game against Fresno State Saturday morning.

The following is the audio file from Helwig and Bielema:
Dennis Helwig
Bielema, 9/8/09



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