During the past two weeks 15 students presenting flu-like symptoms in the university clinic have been sent home to nurse their illnesses, said Alice Loper, Director of Student Health Services. Symptoms include fever, cough and congestion, aches and nausea.
“We area asking the sick students to stay home, away from other students and treat their symptoms,” Loper said. “The CDC recommends avoiding contact with others until at least 24 hours after the symptoms subside.”
With the onset of seasonal flu approaching, Loper advises the campus community to adhere to the campus-wide, clean-hands campaign, “Protect. Don’t Infect.”
The university has armed classrooms, restrooms and other public areas with anti-viral hand sanitizers and provided students with germ-free wipes in the computer labs and in Wellness Depot. Student Health Services has placed banners across the campus asking students to protect themselves and others.
“Now, more than ever, we need to be conscious of protecting ourselves and others from the spread of the flu viruses,” Loper said.
Students began coming to the clinic with flu-like symptoms Aug. 25, just nine days into Fall 2009 Semester. During the peak in September, Student Health Services staff sent as many as 15 students a day home.
“None of our students were tested for the H1N1 virus,” Loper said. “By the time flu-like illness began occurring on campus, no confirming testing was being done for H1N1 flu at the state level. According to our physician consultants and the CDC, flu-like illness seen during this time was assumed to be H1N1 flu since it is not yet time for seasonal flu.”
During September, health services administered more than 975 seasonal flu vaccines. The clinic has depleted its supply the vaccines and does not anticipate receiving additional supplies. Baldwin County Health Department had seasonal flu vaccines available Wednesday, Loper said.
The clinic plans to administer H1N1 vaccine to students free of charge as soon as the vaccine arrives.
“We will start giving those vaccines as soon as we receive them,” Loper said. “And it’s not too late to take the seasonal flu vaccine as well. It’s OK to take both vaccines at the same time.”
For more information on the flu or available vaccines, call Student Health Services at (478) 445-5288.