Other colleges dealing with H1N1 outbreaks

By Alicia Nierenstein | anierenstein@flagler.edu

Flagler College isn’t the only school in the region with a sweeping fear of an H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak.
Seven cases of H1N1 popped up at Stetson University in DeLand since the beginning of the school year.

“Seven specimens have come back H1N1 positive since the beginning of this school year, but the kids who have had it are back in class after 3-5 days,” said Stetson’s Health Services Director Debbie Cassidy. “At the beginning of the school year we expected a surge of the flu, and that is what happened.”

Cassidy said that her office sees about seven or eight suspect cases per day. “Students with a temperature over 100 degrees, or even a cough could potentially have it. We have to rely on clinical judgement,” Cassidy said.

Meghon Crossley, a senior and a Resident Advisor at Stetson, said that she isn’t bothered at all by the outbreak. “We send home a lot of people just to be cautious, which is a good thing,” Crossley said.

As an RA, Crossley needs to keep a cool head and make sure her residents are doing all they can to stay healthy. “It’s good be aware of [health concerns],” Crossley said. “I always tell my residents to stay healthy by doing simple things like covering their mouths when they cough, taking vitamins and using hand sanitizers.”

Cassidy wants to dispel panic and clarify that most people recover after a few days. “You only hear the tragic stories, and what people don’t take into account is the fact that people with things like cystic fibrosis, asthma, or even diabetes are more susceptible to this,” she said.

Stetson isn’t prescribing antiviral medications to students unless they’re considered “high-risk.” Students have the option of going home or retreating to self-isolation. The school is delivering meals to sick students’ dorm rooms.

Crossley is confident in Stetson’s efforts to keep the H1N1 outbreak at bay. “Our numbers have really gone down dramatically,” Crossley said. “To be honest, I intern at an elementary school, and I am more afraid of catching the common cold in that classroom than I am of catching the swine flu at my school.”

Stetson is just one of the many schools reporting students with H1N1 symptoms. The University of Kansas, Mississippi State University and Washington State University have reported suspected H1N1 cases. They could not be reached for comments or confirmations.

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