MPH student dies following flu

by PAULINA KARPIS | 11/23/09 11:00pm

Henry Masters, a student in the master's of public health program at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, passed away this weekend after testing positive for the H1N1 virus. Masters had a chronic autoimmune disorder that College President Jim Yong Kim said in a campus-wide e-mail Monday afternoon was the "underlying cause" of his death.

"He was a good student," TDI Center for Education director Gerald O'Connor said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "He was a hard worker. It is a great loss to our program."

Lucy Masters, Henry's mother, described him as a "person who was beloved in many different worlds."

"Henry was the kind of guy who made friends everywhere he went," Annie Masters, Henry's sister, wrote on, a web site she created to collect stories and photos commemorating her brother. She declined to comment for this article when contacted by The Dartmouth via e-mail.

Masters was admitted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center last week, according to an e-mail from Karen Tombs, TDI academic programs administrator, to TDI faculty, students and staff sent Sunday morning.

Masters' health later worsened due to "serious complications," Tombs said in the e-mail.

"We don't know for sure that H1N1 precipitated the death of the student, but there is a possibility that it ticked off the worsening of the chronic disease," College Health Services director John Turco said in an interview. "The College is emphasizing and urging people to do everything possible to make sure that they don't get the disease."

Over the last three and a half weeks, 540 students have been vaccinated for H1N1. Students under 24 with chronic health conditions are given priority because they have the highest risk of developing complications, Turco said.

Dick's House has received another 200 batches of the H1N1 vaccine from the New Hampshire Public Health department. The vaccine will be administered beginning Dec. 2. Dick's House is expecting to receive another shipment of 200 batches within the next 10 days.

Although the number of swine flu cases at the College has declined over the past few weeks, students are still being diagnosed with H1N1, Turco said.

This year, a total of 429 students have been diagnosed with influenza-like illnesses. Approximately 50 percent of a sample of those tested were positive for the H1N1 influenza A strain, Turco said.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on Monday that two more people had died from complications due to swine flu in the state last week, bringing the total number of deaths related to H1N1 in New Hampshire to five.

Multiple students at TDI declined to comment for this article.