Tuesday, April 28, 2009
K-STATE HAS SWINE FLU HOTLINE; PLAN IN PLACE TO MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF A FLU OUTBREAK
MANHATTAN -- Since the weekend news that swine flu has come to Kansas, officials at Kansas State University have been monitoring the situation and putting programs in place to minimize the impact of the virus.
"We continue to keep an eye on developments at the local, regional, national and international level," said Dr. Robert Tackett, medical director of K-State's Lafene Student Health Center.
To make sure students, their parents, K-State staff and the public have the latest information, a swine flu hotline has been launched: 532-7233, or 532-SAFE. This line will provide general information and allow people to connect to Lafene Student Health Center or the office of student life.
Should the current swine flu outbreak become a larger public health problem, K-State also has a Pandemic Influenza Plan in place. It lays out the steps that could be taken by university officials should the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization declare that there is a pandemic of influenza.
"The plan was developed because of the possibility of a flu pandemic similar to the 1918 pandemic," said Steven Galitzer, director of environmental health and safety at K-State. "We developed a plan of action to aid in administrative decision making and to help university departments plan for the worst."
The plan was developed by a committee comprised of members from all corners of campus and was adopted in fall 2007.
According to the plan, the campus’ greatest risk would be a highly transmissible virus with 3,000 students in residence halls living in close proximity and sharing facilities. The plan’s purpose is to minimize exposure and key to that is early action.
But when exactly the plan goes into effect depends on whether there are confirmed cases in Manhattan or on campus, and what phase the World Health Organization has assigned the outbreak.
At this stage, the World Health Organization has classified the current situation as a "phase 4" outbreak. That means that the virus has demonstrated that it is transmissible between people and could cause a community-wide outbreak, but has yet to reach pandemic level. A pandemic flu is highly contagious and spreads internationally, infecting a large proportion of the human population.
In Kansas, two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Dickinson County. Nationwide, there are more than 60 cases, with another 2,000 people in Mexico hospitalized with swine flu-related pneumonia and roughly 150 deaths believed to be flu-related in that country.
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swine flu H1N1 is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza, the strain that regularly causes outbreaks of flu in pigs.