H1N1 flu is still a concern

Emma Dejong

Emma Dejong

As classrooms are seeing more and more empty desks, Student Health and Counseling is flooded with students.

The H1N1 virus is a serious threat on campus and it is estimated that multiple weeks will pass before enough vaccines arrive on campus.

“Probably in mid-November vaccines will be available for college students,” said Barb Buhler, information officer for the South Dakota Department of Health.

When the vaccines do arrive, they will not cost anything and will be offered both as a shot and a nasal spray. The number of vaccines is what is still in question.

Health care workers have already received it. Next in line are the high-risk students, which includes those who are 18 and younger, pregnant or have high-risk chronic conditions.

“The vaccine is very slow to trickle in,” said Brenda Anderson, associate director of Student Health and Counseling. “When we get it, it will go to the high risk students first. They have said there is going to be enough for the needing population.”

It is impossible to know the exact number of cases because not only are people not all getting tested, but the test itself is not always accurate.

“It’s all out there,” Anderson said. “We can’t even go by numbers anymore.”

The S.D. Department of Health reported that as of Oct. 17, there were 865 confirmed H1N1 cases in the state. This is a drastic increase from past years.

According to the Department’s flu surveillance, “Prior to the 2009-2010 flu season, South Dakota reported a total of 121 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 flu.”

The symptoms of the H1N1 virus are similar to the common influenza and one can treat it the same way as well: getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.

It is recommended for many people to stay home if they feel sick, as they will typically heal from the virus on their own and will not be putting anyone else in danger.

“With H1N1, just as with the seasonal flu, most people are going to recover just fine at home,” Buhler said.

Anderson said patients are not always being tested anymore. However, serious cases do need to be looked at.

“I think the health care system is going to get overrun if everyone comes in,” she said. “[But] if they’re not getting better or they’re getting worse, they need to call us.”

Students that have questions or feel sick can call the H1N1 hotline, at 605-688-7425.

Buhler said taking precautions to prevent outbreaks is still extremely important. People need to continue to wash their hands, and if someone feels ill, they should stay at home and rest.

“People are tired of hearing about it, but it’s important,” Buhler said.

H1N1 at a glance

The Center for Disease Control says there are 22.4 million doses of H1N1 vaccines available in the United States.

Numbers and web sites

– H1N1 is present in 46 states. – More information on the flu at http://www.flu.gov