Flu season ‘no worse than usual’

By on October 7, 2009

“My personal feeling is that there’s been one true case of H1N1 here,” Director of Student Health Services Kathryn Macaione said. She went on to say that without looking closely at the numbers, her guess was that this flu season has been no worse than usual.

According to the Influenza-Like Illness Reports sent by the school to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were roughly one to two cases of flulike symptoms every week last year. This year, the incidence has increased to about four to five per week. Flu-like symptoms are defined as a high temperature, sore throat and cough. Viral testing for H1N1 is uncommon at this point, because the patient has often recovered by the time that the results have come back.

Macaione believes that the increase in students showing flu-like symptoms is simply a reflection of the increased number of students living on campus this semester, with the large freshman class and the opening of York Hill.

The administration has set up an H1N1 tip line at 582-H1N1. According to Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan, the line is designed to answer questions that students or parents might have about H1N1 and how to protect yourself from infection.

The next free flu clinic will be Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., or whenever the vaccine runs out. According to the tip line, a swine flu vaccine should be coming to QU by late October, but it makes no mention of this flu clinic specifically.

Macaione said that there is a lot of confusion about the number of flu cases this year, because people assume that the numbers being floated around indicate how many people are sick at the moment, when they in fact represent a running total for the year.

She said that the only case she believes to have been swine flu was also the only time that the school’s isolation policy was used. Generally, students are sent home if they show symptoms, but this student’s mother was undergoing chemotherapy, so her immune system was too weak for him to return home. He was allowed to return to his room with a mask to get his belongings. He was then put into isolation.

University policy, per the recommendation of the school’s Crisis Management Team, is that if an infected student cannot return home, they must stay in isolation until they have shown no fever for 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing medication.

“It makes me nervous,” Macaione said of the H1H1 vaccine, which is just beginning to arrive in Connecticut. “It’s not a dead vaccine like the immunizations we get, it’s a live vaccine.” She said that as soon as an injectable H1N1 vaccine was available to the school, they would start giving it out. “The H1N1 vaccine won’t sit here once we get it.”

She said that the worst of the flu season is likely yet to come.

“Typically flu season is December to February,” she said. “That’s why we’ve been getting the vaccines out as soon as we could.”

lot of confusion about the number of flu cases this year, because people assume that the numbers being floated around indicate how many people are sick at the moment, when they in fact represent a running total for the year.

She said that the only case she believes to have been swine flu was also the only time that the school’s isolation policy was used. Generally, students are sent home if they show symptoms, but this student’s mother was undergoing chemotherapy, so her immune system was too weak for him to return home. He was allowed to return to his room with a mask to get his belongings. He was then put into isolation.

University policy, per the recommendation of the school’s Crisis Management Team, is that if an infected student cannot return home, they must stay in isolation until they have shown no fever for 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing medication.

“It makes me nervous,” Macaione said of the H1H1 vaccine, which is just beginning to arrive in Connecticut. “It’s not a dead vaccine like the immunizations we get, it’s a live vaccine.” She said that as soon as an injectable H1N1 vaccine was available to the school, they would start giving it out. “The H1N1 vaccine won’t sit here once we get it.”

She said that the worst of the flu season is likely yet to come, as the peak is December-February.

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