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Swine Flu Goes To College

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, September 14, 2009 10:45 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Swine Flu, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H1N1, Influenza, Public Health. College Campuses, Hand Washing

Handwashing regularly and with warm water for at least 30 seconds is the most reliable way to fight the flu.

72 Percent Of Schools Report Cases


IMAGE SOURCE: iStock photo/ handwashing

Flu has come early in the season to college campuses.

At last count 435 cases are reported at the University of Maryland, and at the University of Virginia 95 cases of flu-like illness are reported.

Symptoms are generally mild and include a racking cough and fever.

Mark Gonzalez, 21, went to the health center after the second day of school and was identified with H1N1. Sent home with a surgical mask, Gonzales tells the Washington Post, “It had to be 10 times worse than the regular flu.”

More than 2,000 students at Washington State University report flu-like illness and at Cornell University in New York state 520 cases are reported.

So far there has been on death related to the flu at Cornell last Friday, and a freshman at Troy University in Alabama has died.

Other schools reporting cases are Georgetown University – 50 cases; George Washington University – 37; American University – 10; Johns Hopkins University – 6; George Mason University – 3.

Since universities do not generally test students to confirm the presence of H1N1, it’s impossible to know how many actual cases there are among students nationwide.

236 college campuses reported into a weekly survey taken by the American College Health Association (ACHA). It found 72 percent of schools surveyed last week reported cases of flu like illness.

ACHA recommends that schools develop a plan to deal with an outbreak of swine flu including – canceling classes and evacuating residence halls; isolating students and staff; reporting illnesses and their severity to local and state public health officials and to the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that 98 percent of current flu cases are H1N1.

The cases hit particularly hard to younger Americans who do not have a lifetime of immunity from other flu seasons.

Flu Shot

Meanwhile GlaxoSmithKline, a British drug maker producing the swine flu vaccine, said Monday that a single shot should protect people from the virus. That will help spread out tight supplies, reports the Washington Post.

As IB News has reported, some multi dose flu vaccines will contain the mercury based preservative, thimerosal, still controversial for it s suspected link to side effects including autism. And adjuvants, present in the Glaxo vaccine, are immune-stimulating compounds added to vaccines to boost their effectiveness; adjuvants can include forms of aluminum.

At least four flu vaccines do still contain Thimerosal, but so do half a dozen other vaccines still being manufactured and injected. For example, a single dose vials of the Sanofi Pasteur brand of DT vaccine has 0 Thimerosal, but if the practitioner is drawing from a multi-dose vial (common at some offices where many shots are given, especially just before school starts) it has the same Thimerosal concentration as in the past (25mcg).

The Institute of Vaccine Safety helps parents research which single-dose vials contain thimerosal among back-to-school vaccines.

Handwashing is the cheapest and most reliable flu fighter.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting #

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