As colleges ready themselves for an onslaught of students, university officials across the country are preparing for the rapid spread of the H1N1 virus that’s expected to hit campuses hard this fall.
Five or six girls at the University of Alabama’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house have already been diagnosed with swine flu days after the end of the fall recruitment. The students were not quarantined, but the sorority’s president Stacy Summerville told the school’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, that the house has been cleaned to prevent the spread of the illness.
At Duke, a group of players and staff members of the football team displayed symptoms of swine flu earlier this month, according to the Duke Chronicle. Some were quarantined while others tried to prevent the spread of the disease.
Guidance for students
“I wash my hands about 38 times a day, minimum,” Head Coach David Cutcliffe told the newspaper. “We can’t call ourselves out of the woods, but we have taken tons of measures and will continue to take the measures recommended by doctors, Duke University, the CDC at Duke. We’ve used our resources well.”
Many university officials are waiting for the release of a vaccine expected in mid-October though Jill deLaubenfels, the director of the health center at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, expects it will first go to people considered at-risk for contracting the illness.
Officials at the University of Kansas know the virus is there and Patty Quinlan, nursing supervisor, told the school’s newspaper that new students should be aware because they already have many stressors that weaken the immune system such as a new diet, people, social scene and living conditions combined with less sleep, more stress and increased alcohol and tobacco use.
University officials across the country are urging students to wash their hands often, cover their mouths when they cough and not share utensils or drinking cups. Many are requesting students be tested as soon as they exhibit flu-like symptoms especially if they’re running a fever and to isolate themselves for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides.
“Any time you get a group of people in a relatively confined space, and you have one person who has a particular illness, it’s easy to get passed on,” Texas A&M’s health center Staff Physician Ed Styduhar told The Battalion. “The majority of the people that come here, you are going to assume they would be in pretty good health. Those that don’t take care of themselves are going to be more prone to contract an illness then those that take care of themselves.”