Nine cases of influenza have been reported on the OSU campus during the past week, but officials said they have had a plan to combat it for quite some time.
Steve Rogers, director of university health services, said the campus has had a pandemic-influenza plan for about four years. He said the plan would cover an outbreak of the H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu. Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by Type A influenza viruses, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Health fact sheet.
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with H1N1 viruses were first reported in southern California and near San Antonio, Texas, according to the sheet. Other states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally, too. As of Aug. 13, there were 7,511 reported cases of swine flu and 477 deaths in relation to swine flu in the United States, according the Center for Disease Control’s Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm. Rogers said some of the some of the cases reported on campus have tested positive for Type A influenza, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily H1N1. “We don’t know whether it is H1N1 for certain because those samples have to be confirmed by the state,” he said. “We have sent what the state has requested—three samples so far—and they will be testing those to see whether it is H1N1.”The treatment, prevention and the response for swine flue are all the same as any other influenza, Rogers said.
“There’s not a lot that we can actually do other than educate and inform because the prevention is an individual act—it is doing things like washing your hands regularly, coughing into a tissue and then throwing the tissue away,” Rogers said. “It really is a situation in which the individual is really the method for best control.” Rogers said health services and residential life have teamed up to provide meal delivery to students affected with influenza. Students diagnosed with influenza will be able to get an exemption from class, he said.
Matt Brown, director of housing and residential life, said the campus is usually affected with a “bug” each fall and spring semester. “We’re not going to stop it, we’re just going to make sure students are taking care of themselves and help try to support them to get over it, get back to class and keep going,” Brown said. “It’s going to work its way through.” Brown said on-campus students can use their meal plan to pay for the meal-delivery service.
“We’d like for the student to try to arrange for someone to pick up their food for them, but if they cannot do that we’ll send someone from our staff to do it,” he said. “Our biggest concern is we don’t want anyone starving, but we also don’t want them having to go out and eat somewhere if they’re sick. Panhellenic Council President Erika Curry said fraternities and sororities are also stepping up precautions for a possible campus-wide influenza pandemic.
“The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs followed all procedures and advice given to us by the proper authorities,” Curry said. Rogers said there’s really no reason for a whole lot of excitement or worry regarding swine flu. “Actually, with what we’re seeing, this is mild compared to what we saw in seasonal flu a couple of years ago,” he said. “It seems to respond well to medication, so if we can make the diagnosis early enough and as long as the medications hold up, we can shorten it even more.