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Academy officials treating sick cadets, staff
Air Force Academy officials announced July 26, 2011, that they are treating basic cadets and active-duty servicemembers for cases of gastroenteritis, or stomach flu. (photo courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs)
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Academy officials treating sick cadets, staff for stomach flu

Posted 7/26/2011   Updated 7/26/2011 Email story   Print story


by Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

7/26/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Health professionals here announced July 26 that they are currently caring for approximately 240 cadets and active-duty personnel exhibiting symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, or viral stomach flu.

No one has been hospitalized to date for the infections, said Maj. (Dr.) Ruth German, a flight surgeon with the Academy's 10th Medical Group.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould said the health and safety of everyone at the Academy is his top priority.

"We understand this is a serious matter, and we're taking steps to inform Academy personnel and the community of the precautions necessary to ensure their safety," he said.

As of July 26, approximately 240 basic cadets have shown stomach flu symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, German said. Medical group officials have taken measures to prevent the virus' spread. Approximately 180 basic cadets were removed from training in Jacks Valley and bused to Vandenberg Hall, where they were placed in isolation.

"We take great care to focus on the health and safety of our basics," she added. "We immunize them when they arrive. During BCT, we watch them closely, and we can intervene if necessary to make sure they are safe and healthy."

Basic cadets are placed under physical and mental stress during BCT, which can compromise their immune systems. In addition, while cadets live in close quarters throughout their four years at the Academy, this is even more true during BCT. The field environment of Jacks Valley makes disease prevention that much more complicated, German said.

"It's much more difficult to maintain sanitary conditions," she added. "When you're camping, your sanitation is not as good as when you're at home."

The illness' timing is a silver lining: because it hit near the end of BCT, the impact on basics' training is minimal, German said.

Active-duty servicemembers who have shown service have been sent home to recover. Those who exhibit symptoms should not report for duty but should call their supervisors. Supervisors could then contact the 10th MDG Public Health office at 719-333-5186 or 719-333-9443. Active-duty servicemembers who need care should contact the Tricare appointment line at 719-457-CARE (2273) to schedule an appointment with a provider.

Stomach flu spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables or direct skin-to-skin contact. The keys to preventing its spread are to thoroughly wash one's hands and clean potentially infected surfaces with a 10-percent bleach solution. Those who are ill should stay hydrated and not hesitate to seek care if needed, German said.

7/28/2011 1:25:27 PM ET
In BCT when dinosaurs roamed the terrazzo I don't remember getting enough food to eat in order to have a stomach virus.
Steve '72er, Alabama
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