Sep 012009
 
Authors: Erik Anderson

You are going to get swine flu.

Just kidding, but you probably will encounter the H1N1 virus sometime this fall or winter.

A White House report released by leading scientists predicts that 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population could get the H1N1 virus this season. What’s more, infections are 20 times more likely in people between the ages of 5 and 24 than in people older than 65, the seasonal flu’s usual targets.

Those aren’t great odds for college students.

Around the country, hundreds of college students are already getting sick as they crowd back into the dorms and lecture halls. At CSU, we already have a few probable cases.

So what do you do when your bottle of hand sanitizer runs out and you too succumb to the pandemic? Luckily for you, CSU has a plan.

If you are sick, stay home. A “flu reporting page” will be added to RamWeb for you to report your symptoms and receive some medical guidance. Your professors may require you to complete this form to be excused from coursework.

Isolate yourself from your roommates and others while you are sick. You may want to stock up on food and medicine now, just in case.

Also, the university recommends you find a “flu buddy,” so you can both enjoy the flu together.

For freshmen living in the dorms, you should tell your Resident Assistant if you get sick. Don’t worry, the swine flu internment camps are just rumors.

H1N1 is a relatively mild strain of the flu. Most people won’t need to see a doctor, but it does have a history of killing seemingly healthy young adults, so be aware.

Vaccinations for H1N1 will be provided free to all students once they arrive in mid-October. Most likely, that will be far too late. You can always get a vaccination for the seasonal flu so you don’t have to get sick twice, or get twice as sick.

In the meantime, wash your hands, sneeze into a tissue and avoid sick people. Or you can just start licking things and get it over with.

Health experts predict a four to six week wave of flu to pass through the student body. More people will be infected than usual, but with less severity.

To gauge the likely severity of the upcoming flu season here, experts watch the Southern Hemisphere, which is now emerging from its flu season. Australia’s season was heavy, but not much worse than 2007.

Most shocking, however, was this: eight out of ten people who were sick with the flu in Australia had the H1N1 strain. Around the globe, H1N1 now accounts for 70 percent of all flu strains.

Despite the world’s Herculean efforts to control H1N1 after its outbreak last spring, it has become the dominant strain of influenza. The World Health Organization estimates that in two years, it will have infected one-third of the world’s population.

It begs the question, what if the swine flu epidemic was actually a zombie epidemic?

At least that’s what two Canadian researchers wanted to know. Using mathematical models, they concluded that only a quick and aggressive response could save civilization from a zombie attack.

Our response to swine flu was fairly quick and definitely aggressive; maybe too aggressive. Entire cities shut down for days, foreign travelers showing flu symptoms were quarantined for weeks and, curiously, some countries banned pork imports. But these efforts failed.

If a more deadly and contagious virus develops in the future, what chance will we stand against it in this globalized world?

I suppose the answer is to keep both hand sanitizer and a shotgun nearby during these epidemics, because you never know if it’ll turn out to be a mild flu or a full fledged zombie assault.

Erik Anderson is a senior natural resources major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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