Swine Flu, AKA H1N1, AKA Novel H1N1, is joining students at move-in, apparently. Fortunately, the number of cases reported, while stretching nationwide, are hardly epidemic: a few people here, a few there.
Some institutions have had more sickness than others; the University of Kansas had 319 affected students at one point, but that number is now decreasing. The institution has 30,000 students, so while the illnesses are disconcerting, they represent just over 1 percent of the student population. Colleges and universities nationwide are urging students to protect themselves from infection and offering instructions for ill students.
Here’s our latest collection of information on H1N1, the vaccine, and plans for dealing with infections.
Many thanks go to Jon Zuhosky, library intern, for researching some of the items in this post!
Many universities and colleges have pandemic plans; this one from North Carolina Central University details the responses for each department, including residence life. Also look at appendix A, which describes each person’s role, their alternates and the protective gear necessary. This presentation, from the University of Kansas, is among the pandemic-oriented items available in the online library. These, and examples such as the University of Florida H1N1 plan that we blogged about, can help when crafting or modifying your own plan. Also, look at the American College Health Association’s Guidelines for Pandemic Planning, the ACHA’s H1N1 site and the CDC’s page for higher education institutions.
In the news:
Instutions’ plans for dealing with a potential outbreak of Swine Flu and their student education campaigns are discussed here, here, and here.
In Teaching the Quarantined, Inside HigherEd explores the problem of maintaining classes when sick students are cautioned to remain isolated for seven days. The Chronicle of Higher Educationhas an article on online teaching in times when face-to-face get-togethers are discouraged: In Case of Emergency, Break Tradition–Teach Online. The Chronicle article discusses other events (a flood, for example) that forced colleges and universities to change their delivery methods.
Most Americans are not very worried about the impact of Swine Flu. Let’s hope our nonchalance doesn’t contribute to apathy, and that H1N1 turns out to be a blip on the collective consciousness by mid-2010.
Norb Dunkel is the Assistant Vice President and Director of Housing and Residence Education at the University of Florida. (Does anyone have a title that’s longer than that? Post to the comments!) Norb has generously provided the text of an announcement given to University of Florida housing professionals in preparation for H1N1 and students’ return to campus. They’ve also posted this on their website. Parents were provided the link in a pre-move-in e-mail.
Among the highlights:
Tips on staying healthy: Sleep in, then eat pie.
No wait. That’s not it. The tips are the usual: Cover coughs, wash hands, use hand sanitizers, get plenty of sleep, and eat well. (Which may include pie.)
Tips on what to do if you become ill: Stay home; stay hydrated and avoid close contact with others. Self-isolate for at least 24 hours beyond when your fever breaks. You do not need to go to the student health center unless you develop severe symptoms: difficulty breathing, abdominal pain or pressure, sudden dizziness, confusion, persistent vomiting or flu symptoms that initially improve then worsen again, with an accompanying fever and cough.
Tips on what to use for cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated, provided courtesy of the EPA.
Some Q&As that parents or students are likely to find useful.
Confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of the H1N1 infection on college campuses continued to make news over the weekend. Higher education institutions — and the associations that serve them — have responded by making a number of resources available to members, staff, and students.
Higher ed professionals will share their questions on Thursday, May 7 from 1-2 p.m. (EST) as NASPA hosts the “Swine Flu:Campus Planning, Preparation & Implementation” conference telephone call with Henry Chung, MD, the associate vice president of Student Health and the executive director of the Student Health Center at New York University. The call is free for NASPA members (though long-distance charges do apply). Register for the phone call here.
Finally, below is a video posted by the White House over the weekend discussing the government’s response to the virus and steps to help prevent its spread.
News reports continue to update the number of suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu (or, more accurately, the H1N1 Influenza virus) on college campuses. InsideHigherEd.com is reporting instances at the University of Delaware, San Diego State University, California State University at Long Beach, and the University of Notre Dame.
A Google map, showing cases on an United States college campus has been set up by The International Association of Emergency Managers-Universities and Colleges Committee and the University of Oregon. It includes cases reported by an institution on their Web site, press release, or other official communication.
While these cases have not caused major disruptions of campus activities, the story does detail a number of cases where campuses are scuttling study-abroad programs in Mexico and bringing faculty and students already in Mexico back to campus.
ACUHO-I will continue to monitor the story and report new developments via this blog. Also, on the ACUHO-I online network, (if you’re not already a member, sign up only takes two minutes) members are encouraged to utilize the Health & Safety forum to post questions and share information about steps being taken on their campus. The forum also allows the posting of files, so members can share policies, procedures, and planning documents).
It’s still too early to see if it’s a case of media overload or a true emergency, but campuses can’t be too careful when it comes to student health. The Chronicle today reported on “just-in-case” precautions happening in student health centers everywhere. As Kent W. Bullis, the medical director at Ball State University in Indiana said in the story, “You’ve got young people who are relatively densely packed into small areas, and you have a relatively mobile society. It’s the ideal place for something like this to spread.”
Currently, the health departments are recommending common sense precautionary measures such as covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing as well as frequent hand washes. People who are ill are being asked to stay home from work or school to limit contact with other people.
Well, it’s not sexy, but it’s gaining popularity. Courses in public health - which include many and diverse topics such as disease transmission and prevention, education campaigns and laws surrounding the health and well-being of a population – have been growing in popularity, reports the Washington Post. Professors in the field speculate this may be the result of a generation that has grown up with the AIDS epidemic as a fact throughout their lives. Also, opportunities in public health careers are growing, and it is a field that offers the chance to make a difference in many lives. There are opportunities for hands-on experience establishing education programs, conducting research and providing services. With regular hand-washing, alcohol responsibility and cleanliness campaigns being as necessary in residence halls as WiFi, how can housing pros tap into this interest and provide programs-and possibly off-campus activities-for students interested (professionally or otherwise) in public health issues?