|Campus prepares for H1N1 virus|
|Written by Andrew Steckling, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 01 September 2009 21:05|
With several cases of the H1N1 virus, formerly known as swine flu, already reported from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, ISU health officials are taking steps towards the awareness and treatment of the virus.
Glenn Weiss, medical director for Student Health Services, said 20,000 immunization shots have been ordered, but time and severity of the disease will be the judge of how many shots SHS will actually receive.
“There are more questions than answers at this point,” he said. “We won’t be sure how much immunization we will receive until we receive it.”
Weiss believes the virus is already present on campus, but since it displays the same symptoms as influenza, there is nothing health officials can do but wait.
“In the past weeks, we saw at least a dozen typical cases of influenza, but since no regular flu bug is circulating currently, we have to assume it’s the H1N1 virus,” he said.
No real progress has been made at the UIUC campus. Officials at the McKinley Health Center have mentioned the number of immunizations they would require to the Illinois Department of Public Health, but no orders have officially been made.
David Lawrance, medical director at McKinley, said the center determined cases of the virus would start showing by the first week of school.
“Unfortunately, we were right,” he said.
Lawrance said the cases were based on signs and symptoms, since the Illinois Department of Public Health have not currently released a way to test for the virus.
“We do have an influenza test available, but like many others, it’s not that effective so we generally don’t use it,” he said.
He said the treatment is still the same for the normal influenza bug, but in addition has strongly recommended students with probable cases of H1N1 to go home until the virus passes to prevent spreading it further.
Weiss said SHS should know approximately how many immunization shots they will receive by the beginning of October, and vaccines are expected to arrive my mid-October.
Although the virus and the influenza bug present similar symptoms, Weiss said the process by which the virus is detected is through a state administered blood test, but only if the patient is hospitalized with the symptoms.
Currently, doctors cannot do anything but prescribe similar treatment for the H1N1 virus, since they will not be able to determine whether one has the virus or not.
“It wouldn’t change the kind of treatment that I already administer, so why would I want to know,” Weiss said. “When the virus presents itself as 10 times worse the normal flu bug, that’s when we’ll start to show more awareness towards it.”