Administration Urges Students to Stay Smart, Practice Healthy Habits
As the H1N1 virus – commonly referred to as the swine flu – continues to spread, colleges and universities across the country are doing their best to prepare students for outbreaks. While, as of press time, there were no reported cases of swine flu in Carroll County or at McDaniel, there have been documented cases at nearby universities like Towson, Johns Hopkins, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The Baltimore Sun reports that the University of Maryland, College Park, is dealing with 172 flu cases that according to campus officials, is “probably” the H1N1 virus.
With a vaccination at least a month away from being distributed, schools are dealing with the issue of H1N1 in different ways. The University of Florida has set aside “sick rooms” for students infected with H1N1, while others, like Loyola College in Baltimore, are strongly advocating flu vaccination shots for all students and faculty members. Sick students are being advised to return home if possible, or otherwise isolate themselves in their dorms or apartments until they have gone 24 hours symptom free.
Despite the widespread panic the spread of H1N1 is causing, many people still have questions about the virus, its effects, and what can be done to prevent it. So here, in a nutshell, is everything you as a student need to know about the H1N1 virus, as stated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic.
First of all: What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory infection caused by Influenza A viruses. Like people, pigs can get influenza (the flu). Usually, cases of swine flu do not infect humans, and in the past the infection was usually limited to people who had direct contact with pigs. The current strain of swine flu is globally widespread, and the chain of person-to-person transmission is no longer clear in most areas. In other words, just because you have not fed a pig in the last three months does not mean you’re safe from H1N1.
Can I get swine flu from eating pork?
Nope! H1N1 cannot be spread through food. Food cooked to an internal temperature of 160 F (71 C) will kill the virus, so eating properly cooked pork is still perfectly safe.
Why all the fuss?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a level 6 pandemic alert for H1N1 – the highest alert level of its kind. This relates more to how widespread the virus is, and is not a reflection of its severity.
What are the symptoms?
Basically, the same as the regular flu. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, coughing, body aches, runny nose, chills, and fatigue. Most people who have the plain old flu exhibit at least two of these symptoms, so the only way to know for sure that you have H1N1 is to have a series of lab tests done. Like seasonal flu, swine flu has been known to cause neurological symptoms in young children. All of these symptoms will be more intense in people of advanced age, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems.
So, you’ve got swine flu…
Say you do have a lo and behold, you actually do have swine flu. The good news is that most people infected with swine flu recover without needing any special medical attention beyond that which you would normally treat the regular flu with. So, get mom (or your roommates) to make you some chicken noodle soup, notify your professors that you’ll be out of class for a few days, drink plenty of fluids, take some Tylenol, and get lots of rest.
If you wish to be seen at McDaniel’s Health and Wellness Center, call ahead (410-857-2243) so that the clinic can be prepared to treat you.
Keep reading The Free Press for more updates on the swine flu story as it develops.