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Three ill, but none called swine flu

HOUSTON -- Only one of three Houston Texans ill this weekend was suffering from flu-like symptoms, and the team doctor didn't call it swine flu.

Houston had the NFL's first confirmed case of swine flu last week in tight end Anthony Hill. Safety Eugene Wilson was inactive for Sunday's game against Oakland after becoming so ill he could barely walk.

Dr. Jim Muntz said he isn't sure Wilson "had the same syndrome" as Hill. Wilson had body aches, but no fever and was sent home to protect the team. Muntz said Wilson phoned him Sunday night and felt better.

Running back Chris Brown and linebacker Xavier Adibi were also ill Sunday, but Muntz said they had gastrointestinal problems.

Hill is better and should be allowed to return to practice this week. Muntz said players can return to practice if they haven't had a fever for 48 hours.

Muntz wouldn't say exactly how many players have been sent to him with flu-like symptoms.

"I couldn't give you the numbers," he said. "There were a number of people before the game [Sunday] that were sick. A couple of them showed up the morning of the game with new symptoms. A couple of them had GI symptoms that I do not think were swine flu and did not get treated as such."

He added that they are "fairly generous" with prescribing Tamiflu to anyone who complains of flu-like symptoms because of Hill's illness. Tamiflu is used to treat both the seasonal flu and the swine flu.

Houston players receive shots for seasonal flu each year and had already received them this year.

Vaccines for the swine flu aren't expected to be available until later this month and even then there will be a very limited number of doses.

Muntz uses his judgment in deciding if patients have the flu. A test to confirm if an illness is swine flu takes two to three days to come back, so patients often aren't even given the test.

"If other players, other patients, had similar symptoms, upper respiratory symptoms, colds, fever, extreme body aches, then we treat them as if they have the flu," he said. "I don't need a culture. I don't need a result back. If I was to see a player ... and I saw [them] on Friday, I may not get test results back until Sunday, Monday. Sometimes the tests don't even help."

When asked if he's concerned about more Texans getting the swine flu, Muntz said the problem isn't just limited to the team.

"The swine flu is out there," he said. "You can't just say the team. It's the team. It's the NFL. It's people in the United States. I wouldn't just say we're worried about the team. This is a community acquired infection, a number of high schools have had it. Other teams have had it or thought they had it. It's not a team issue, it's a health issue worldwide."

Earlier this year, a pair of Miami Dolphins missed a preseason game with flu-like symptoms, but the team wouldn't say whether the players were tested for swine flu.

Flu-like symptoms have hit a number of college programs this season, including Wisconsin and No. 1 Florida, which last month held a number of players out of practice. The Gators had a round of flu shots about a week after a school official predicted that as many as 40 percent of students could catch swine flu this season.

Muntz said the team has talked to infectious disease officials in Houston and to a doctor with the NFL to keep them up to date on the illnesses.

Houston's trainers are reminding players to wash their hands often and never use the same towels. There are also signs in the team facility telling players to cover their mouths and noses when they cough.

Team officials are also urging players to notify the trainers as soon as they start to feel sick so they can begin treatment and limit the spread of the illness.

Notes:

LB Khary Campbell and FS Nick Ferguson both have sprained knees and will miss Sunday's game at Arizona. ... DE Mario Williams has a left shoulder injury and will be listed as day to day. ... RB Ryan Moats has turf toe and will also be listed as day to day.