JCU prepares students for possible swine flu pandemic

September 10th, 2009

With the end of summer and classes beginning across the nation, more students are gathering in close proximity, increasing the chances of passing germs. H1N1 is the greatest health concern for college campuses.

H1N1, commonly known as the “swine flu,” is a newer form of influenza passed from human to human mostly through germs spread by coughing and sneezing.

The virus has been sweeping the country since April 2009. In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the H1N1 virus a pandemic.

John Carroll has followed steps set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) in preparing for an outbreak.

So far, two JCU students were presumed to have the H1N1 flu and are now recovering. The University has asked everyone on campus to keep the flu suppressed through cautious prevention.

“Prevention is pretty simple,” said Jan Krevh, director of the JCU health center. “Just like avoiding other forms of the flu, washing your hands is very important especially after coughing or sneezing.” 

Avoiding other actions, such as sharing drinks or touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth, also helps  to prevent infection.

Students who feel they might have the flu are urged to contact their professors and the student health center or JCU EMS immediately. 

“It comes on to you pretty quick,” said Krevh. “Many people say they felt like they had been hit by a truck.”

Dean of Students Sherri Crahen said, “Like many universities with dormitories, we are concerned about our students and their close proximity to one another. But if everyone takes the proper steps to prevent spreading the flu and students with the flu go home or check into the recovery center, hopefully we will not see an outbreak like other universities have.”

Organizations on campus have also been accommodating. Aramark has agreed to deliver meals to infected students and either a nurse or JCU EMS responder will be available 24 hours a day in the area.

“We want to make this as much of a positive experience for students as we can,” said Heather Losneck, director of residence life. “That’s why we have placed phones, refrigerators and microwaves in each room and a television in the common room.”

A study by the American College Health Association shows 55 percent of campuses sampled reported cases of H1N1 in late August.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the first cases were confirmed at Xavier University on Aug. 23. By Aug. 28, 7 students were confirmed to have the virus and 70 more students are considered probable H1N1 cases.

Students infected with the flu will be asked to remain in isolation, either at home or in the recovery center, until they have fully recovered. 

Recovery usually takes between three and ten days and ends when there has been no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs.

Faculty members were advised last week in an e-mail by John Day, vice president of academic affairs, to encourage students not to come to class if they are exhibiting signs of the flu. 

In addition, a letter sent to the students reads, “Students afflicted with the flu should not attend class…We have asked faculty…to give students the opportunity to make up work they may have missed.”

After an initial screening, infected students will be asked either to return to their family’s home if they live close, or else check in to the newly established recovery center in Murphy Hall. There, students will be able to rest and recover without the interruptions of living in their own rooms. 

This will also decrease the chances of spreading the virus to fellow students.

Symptoms of the H1N1 virus include fever (usually over 100 degrees Fahrenheit), sore throat, cough, fatigue, headaches and body aches.

The treatment of H1N1 is similar to the treatment of the regular flu strain. It includes resting, drinking fluids and taking over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen and Tylenol.