H1N1 update

Katie Vanmarter-Sanders

Though the novel H1N1 virus has yet to strike Lawrence this year, the virus has the faculty on full alert. An e-mail sent at the beginning of this term from President Jill Beck warned students to take H1N1 seriously and to follow standard health procedures.
Lawrence University Health Services and professors echoed the call for caution by stressing that, while absence from class is not normally acceptable, exceptions will be made for those students who are sick. Ill students are highly encouraged to stay home in order to curb the spread of disease.
The concerning factor about the H1N1 virus is its ability to spread rapidly. The World Health Organization has set the pandemic alert to phase six on account of the H1N1 virus. This pandemic level indicates widespread, globally diverse, community-level human infection. However, the WHO assures the public that the term “pandemic” does not pertain to the severity of the disease, but rather to its worldwide spread.
H1N1 travels between humans via tiny liquid droplets in the air. Therefore, people suspected of having an H1N1 infection are asked to wear masks in hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants people to visit healthcare professionals if they have body aches, a high fever, chills or a sore throat, as these are all signs of the flu.
Because the virus can spread quickly, especially among younger individuals who have not been exposed to previous outbreaks of similar influenza strains, the flu is of particular concern to colleges. Students living in proximity to one another and sharing everything from pianos to computers to applesauce makes it easy for contagions to circulate a campus.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison had several cases of the flu early this semester, though the number of student clinic visits has declined in the past few weeks. The number of confirmed cases dropped from 345 in the week of Sept. 5-12 to 168 students last week. At Northland College in Ashland, Wis., a number of infected students have been isolated in designated dorms.
Susie Muenster, Lawrence’s registered nurse, said that the infections at these other Wisconsin colleges do not bode well for Lawrence. She strongly encourages students to use “respiratory manners” and has facemasks for students who want them. She claims that they look pretty good once you decorate them. Preventing the flu is much easier than treating the flu. Therefore, it is important to keep yourself healthy for the sake of the campus.