Campus outbreak expected to be mild
In the coming weeks the Ferris campus is expected to undergo a mild to moderate outbreak of the H1N1 virus that has been sweeping across the nation.
College campuses are expected to be among the hardest hit areas in the nation. Ferris has not yet recorded a case of H1N1, but has seen some basic influenza cases thus far in the fall semester.
Paul Sullivan, Ph.D., the director of the Birkham Health and Counseling Center on campus, recently shared some information on what he expects will occur and how the school will react if there is an outbreak.
“We think that we will have a mild outbreak of H1N1 in the next few weeks,” said Sullivan. “It has affected all corners of the country except for the Great Lakes states, and it’s moving towards us.”
The university anticipates an outbreak involving several dozen to 200 students who may experience symptoms for five to seven days. The policies and course of action that will be taken by the university are in compliance and will follow the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.
As Sullivan outlined, the number one priority is prevention, and then how to handle it once it hits. In a university-wide notice released on Sept. 1, students were urged to practice good hygiene, respiratory etiquette, to know the signs and symptoms of the flu, to stay at home if you have a flu or flu-like illness and to talk to your health care providers about whether or not a vaccination is in order.
Some of the symptoms to be aware of include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body ache, headache, chills and fatigue.
In regard to the vaccination, Sullivan said that because it is a completely different vaccination than the seasonal flu, the H1N1 shots will not be available until October. If there is only a small supply available when it does come out, it will only be administered to high risk groups.
These groups include pregnant women, people who look after children who are under six years old, and health and emergency workers on campus. Another group that will be high on the list is students who have a weak immune system and cardiac or lung problems.
Students who contract the virus or who have influenza like illness (ILI) are urged by the health center to stay home and not attend classes. Sullivan also said that a diagnosis can be done over the phone, but students are always welcome to come in if they please.
While it is recommended to stay isolated if illness does occur, instructors cannot bar students from attending class. Also, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs has decided to prepare by requesting an H1N1 Swine Flu Instructional Contingency Plan (FICP) from all faculty for all classes.
For more information on prevention and anticipated statistics, check the Birkham Health Center web site.