A larger number of students are coming to the Student Health Center this year than in the past due to fears about the swine flu.
At two information sessions hosted by the AU Student Government this week, a panel discussed how AU is dealing with H1N1 cases and what students should be doing to prevent, identify and treat the virus. The panel included Director of the Student Health Center Dan Bruey, Executive Director of Housing and Dining Programs Chris Moody and Physician Assistant at the Student Health Center Joseph Hudson.
The Health Center diagnoses students with influenza-like symptoms every day, according to Bruey.
“Because of the awareness, more patients are coming in sooner,” Hudson said.
However, the Health Center has not been keeping a count of the total number of cases, according to Bruey.
One of the main concerns people have is whether they have swine flu or not, according to Bruey. But in most cases the Health Center sees individual testing for the swine flu is unnecessary, he said.
“There are different testing sites around the country to determine what flu is circulating right now, and it’s definitely H1N1,” Bruey said.
A vaccine for the H1N1 virus will come to AU in the second or third week of October, according to Bruey. The first release of the vaccine was this week.
“We’re in the second shipment from Centers for Disease Center to state health departments,” Bruey said.
One component in the rising number of reported H1N1 infections is psychological, Moody said. Because many people know about it through the media, they expect it, he said.
The best way to diagnose other than testing is determining by a patient’s fever. A fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit usually indicates swine flu, according to Hundson.
But students with “underlying medical conditions” who also experience flu-like symptoms should not hesitate to go to the Health Center, according to Moody.
“It should not be a choice,” he said. “They should immediately go to the Health Center.”
At the information session, a student also asked about the availability of Tamiflu at the Health Center as a precaution for regular seasonal flu.
The CDC has reported a shortage of children’s Tamiflu but adult Tamiflu is still available. Still, everyone who comes to the Health Center with flu-like symptoms will not necessarily be prescribed Tamiflu, according to Hudson.
Because of the large numbers of people coming to the Health Center, “we’re using [Tamiflu] for people who need it most,” Bruey said.
The vaccine for regular flu has been administered on-campus, and “the response has been excellent ... We’re happy that we have that turnout,” Bruey said.
When cases of flu are confirmed at the Health Center, Housing and Dining Programs is informed and they work with the student concerning their living arrangements.
“The first choice is to go home if possible,” Moody said. “We work with students who are unable to leave campus. We have formed our protocol based on [the CDC] guidelines.”
Since the CDC deems it safe for roommates to share the same space, Housing and Dining encourages sick students to stay where they are because a familiar environment is more conducive to recovery. Roommates are given the option of relocating, according to Moody.
“The only other option is moving to a floor lounge. We currently have several set up across campus,” Moody said.