September 9, 2009
By Kafi Drexel, NY1 Health & Fitness Editor
There’s already a surge in suspected cases of H1N1/swine flu among college students, and many colleges are taking great efforts to keep the bug off campus. NY1’s Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
It’s not your typical back-to-school care packet, but officials at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens are helping to decrease the chances of H1N1/swine flu by handing out hand sanitizer and health information flyers.
While some St. John’s students have already reported not feeling well, the school does not have any confirmed cases yet heading into the fall semester. University officials are doing their best to keep it that way.
“They got a letter this summer telling them again to come to campus prepared,” says Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, St. John’s executive director of “student wellness.” “And the message remains: practice good hygiene, engage in good cough etiquette do not share personal items with friends. Make sure if you have any flu-like symptoms, do not come to class.
Already, colleges and universities around the country are dealing with what looks like the return of swine flu. At Washington State University, more than 2,000 students have reported symptoms. At Emory University in Georgia, students with suspected cases have been quarantined to a dorm dubbed “Swine U.”
“We did expect that increased influenza would start to be evident earlier than usual and that it might be most evident in school-age or young adult populations,” says Director Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control.
At St. John’s main campus, more than 17,000 students, faculty and staff gather on a daily basis in mostly pretty confined spaces. So they say they have prepared for the possible threat of H1N1 almost as if they are a small city.
“Particularly because college students are such a mobile population, we have so many students that are coming and going on public transportation and to or from workplaces, etc.,” says Hutchinson.
Like many other schools around the country, St. John’s has plans in place to isolate sick students or send them home, and professors were asked to modify strict attendance policies and communicate course work online or through emails if necessary.
Similar measures are in place at Wagner College on Staten Island, where every student was sent a letter about flu prevention and common flu shots are being offered for free.
“It is a very important thing here just because we all live in such close quarters. We share bathrooms and with [our] roommates,” says Lisa Toth, a Wagner College student.
“There will be flu clinics on campus. I believe we will be offering the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available,” says Media Relations Director Lee Manchester of Wagner College.
The goal for most colleges is to keep students healthy but be prepared for anything possible.
September 9, 2009