Sep 092009
 
Authors: K.C. Fleming

Sixty students and faculty at CSU have reported that they experienced symptoms of the H1N1 virus, a Health Network physician confirmed Wednesday, but university officials believe that more people are infected who have not reported their symptoms.

Because the university has had difficulties determining an accurate number of people infected with H1N1 at CSU, members of the university Public Safety Team have set up a link on RamWeb, which appears just below a student’s name on the home page, where students can go to report their symptoms.

The Web site is intended to do several things including: inform instructors when a student is ill, provide a safe way for students to report symptoms and to help CSU better track the number of students with developing illnesses.

CSU, CU-Boulder and the University of Northern Colorado are all following the directive of the Colorado Department of Higher Education to not close the universities in the event of an on-campus pandemic caused by H1N1, commonly known as the swine flu.

At this time, there are not enough reported cases of H1N1 to close the school, said Jane Higgins, a CSU Health Network physician. The campus could close if the virus mutates into something more deadly, however, or if the number of infected faculty members becomes so severe that the school cannot function.

While people are encouraged to get medical help if they experience complications as a result of the H1N1 virus, Higgins said that staying at home is best.

Self-isolation will not be enforced, but the CSU Health Network, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control, strongly recommend that both students living on- and off-campus comply with this idea.

“We want people not to be within coughing and sneezingdistance of others and not to be touching the same items especially after coughing or sneezing,” Higgins said. “So what the CDC has proposed is, preferably, a 6-foot distance between well people and sick people.”

“Use a face mask if you cannot maintain that distance and wash hands frequently,” she added.

Some CSU students did not think isolation is possible on campus.

“I don’t think the students will be able to do that even if they wanted to. We live too close together and we sit too close together in class,” said Danielle Maitland, an undeclared freshman who lives on campus.

“If any of this is going to work it will be the face masks,” she said. “They could serve as like a warning to others to stay away and also help contain the germs.”

The CSU Health Network is not administering many rapid (in-clinic) flu tests, Higgins said, because the tests are not as sensitive to the virus and tend to come back inconclusive.

“. The rapid flu test is not as sensitive to H1N1 as we would like it to be, so if we get a negative (test result) we’ll still give people the same advice — to self-isolate until your fever is gone.”

The CSU Health Network will hand out hand sanitizer to students as a precautionary measure along with “flu fighter kits” that will include such things as tissues, a facemask and a coupon for a thermometer.

All of the previous recommendations are a part of CSU’s plan to control an H1N1 outbreak on campus. The Public Safety Team adapted its original pandemic plan to address this virus specifically.

For more information about the H1N1 virus and what to do if you or someone you know is sick, visit: http://hartshorn.colostate.edu.

Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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