With the expected resurgence of the H1N1 flu virus this fall, K-State officials have begun educating students, staff and faculty on what to expect, as well as how to prevent the disease's spread and where to seek help if needed.
The H1N1 influenza virus was first confirmed in the U.S. in April and because of the way it spread across the globe, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in June. Most recently, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated that a resurgence of the virus is likely in the U.S. population this fall.
Dr. Robert Tackett, medical director of K-State's Lafene Health Center, said that in the four months since the H1N1 situation began, the clinic had its first lab confirmed case in a student the week of Aug. 16-22; another student was seen the same week with influenza-like illness, probably caused by H1N1. The two students live off campus and were asked to isolate themselves until 24 hours after their fevers and other symptoms have subsided, Tackett said.
Dr. Robert Tackett, medical director of K-State's Lafene Health Center, says that when it comes to flu, it's never too early to begin practicing prevention.
He offered the following tips:
Symptoms caused by the H1N1 virus include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have contracted the virus also reported diarrhea and vomiting. This is based on current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
"Those who experience these symptoms should stay at home and away from others," Tackett said. "Students should not go to class until their fever is gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications."
Faculty and staff should not come to work if ill, he said, and should go home quickly if they become ill at work.
Those with compromised immune systems or chronic diseases, who are pregnant or who are morbidly obese are at a higher risk for developing severe disease. In addition, people age 6 months to 49 years are at greater risk of becoming infected, though a majority of the cases in Kansas will likely be in those younger than 35.
Tackett said that people who get sick can expect the illness to last up to a week, and that most people will recover without medical care -- though those with severe illness should seek medical attention.
Steven Galitzer, K-State's director of environmental health and safety, said that educational materials detailing prevention measures and publications offering advice on how to halt the spread of the H1N1 virus will be posted across campus, including in restrooms.
"Social distancing and good personal hygiene will go a long way in reducing the spread of this flu," Galitzer said.
As soon as the H1N1 vaccine becomes available later this fall, Lafene will offer several vaccination clinics. The vaccination will consist of two injections separated by at least three weeks. Initial target groups to receive the vaccine first include pregnant women, those who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, health care and emergency medical personnel, people between 6 months and 24 years of age, and people who are older and have underlying medical conditions placing them at a higher risk of complications.
People also are encouraged to get the seasonal vaccine. Lafene will soon be offering flu vaccine clinics to students, faculty and staff -- and they will begin sooner than usual.
K-State has a H1N1 hotline, 785-532-SAFE (7233), that parents and students can call to get the latest information about conditions on campus.
Additional information will be posted on Lafene's Web site at http://www.k-state.edu/lafene/h1n1flu.htm
Lafene's new Twitter account at http://twitter.com/DoctorWillie also will be updated as developments take place.