“With H1N1, we’re seeing more stomach upset than we do with regular seasonal flu,” said Jan Noyes, nurse practitioner for the Emporia State Health Center. “A lot of time we see nausea. We see vomiting. We see diarrhea.”
A new plan for dealing with the H1N1 virus, also known as Swine Flu, was released from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education last Thursday. The plan detailed how school officials should deal with the virus during the upcoming flu season.
According to the World Health Organization, the infection rate across the globe has reached level 6, or pandemic levels, meaning that more than one global region has been infected.
Jan Noyes, nurse practitioner for the Emporia State Health Center, said that there have been no reported cases of H1N1 at Emporia State.
“We have had no confirmed cases of H1N1,” Noyes said. “We have had confirmed cases with Influenza A”
The main focus of preparation has been set on prevention. This includes preventing students from getting the virus and preventing those who do get it from spreading to others.
“They are having a campaign to tell people how to prevent getting the flu,” Noyes said. “They put out an announcement answering the most common questions about what is the difference between the seasonal flu and the H1N1 and why there is a need to have vaccines for both of them.”
The H1N1 vaccine, along with the Influenza A vaccine, will be offered at the health center as soon as they are available.
“Right now, (the Kansas Department of Health and Environment) is giving us updates on when we can expect to get the vaccines and it seems like every week it is changing,” Noyes said. “The seasonal flu vaccines will probably come first.”
However, persons who are at the most risk will be offered the first set of vaccines, Noyes said. This includes pregnant women, small children and young adults up to age 25 and healthcare professionals.
Noyes encourages everyone, especially the people who are at the most risk, to get both a seasonal flu shot and a H1N1 vaccine. Seasonal flu shots will not protect individual from the H1N1 virus.
“Everyone needs to get their seasonal flu shot along with the H1N1 when it does come out,” Noyes said. “The seasonal shot will not cover the H1N1 virus.”
If students suspect that they have the flu, H1N1 or otherwise, Noyes suggests that they isolate themselves. If students do come into the health center with flu like symptoms, precautionary measures will be taken.
“If somebody is coming in with a cough, we’re just going to automatically ask them to mask until we find out what’s going on them,” Noyes said. “We’ll try to get them back in a room to isolate them immediately.”
Symptoms for H1N1 and seasonal flu are similar, including high fever, cough and sore throat.
“With H1N1, we’re seeing more stomach upset than we do with regular seasonal flu,” Noyes said. “A lot of time we see nausea. We see vomiting. We see diarrhea.”
Students can take steps to prevent contracting the disease.
“If you want to prevent it, wash your hands,” said Marjorie Werly, director of public relations and executive assistant to the president. “If you do feel yourself getting sick, segregate yourself until the fever has gone away.
According to the WHO, persons with H1N1 can be contagious for up to seven days. Werly said that students should continue to isolate themselves until 24 hours after their fever has subsided and they have stopped taking medication.
Gary Wyatt, professor of sociology, anthropology and crime and delinquency studies said he is worried for his students.
“I’ve always had a strict attendance policy but I got very worried about what I was hearing about the swine flu,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt was so worried, in fact, that he changed his attendance policy.
“Students might come and compromise everyone else’s health,” he said. “If you honestly feel you might be getting sick, contact me and absolutely don’t come to class. Stay home until you feel better. I would feel awful if someone came to class because they were worried about missing points and infected everyone else.”
Ashley Peaches/The Bulletin