By Cameron Siefkes
She thought the sneezing and coughing she was experiencing was due to allergies. Little did she know, her symptoms would rapidly turn into the H1N1 virus.
Anna Lester, elementary education senior, is just one student on campus who has been infected. Lester said, “I actually went to work on Thursday morning like normal. When I got home I started to feel bad. The symptoms hit me really fast, and then progressed quickly.” Immediately after this happened, she went to the doctor to be tested.
Lester lives in Honors with her husband Russ Lester, philosophy and religious studies senior, and was worried about infecting him as well. She said, “He made sure to keep his hands washed and keep things in our apartment sanitized, and he never got sick.”
Five days later Lester was back in class and had her schoolwork made up in no time.
H1N1, also known as the Swine Flu, is a new strain of the influenza virus. The virus is spread from person to person. Once infected, a person can experience fatigue, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, chills, coughing, sneezing and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. The virus is different from seasonal flu viruses. Over 5,000 people have died worldwide because of H1N1. According to health officials 12 people from Kansas have died as of Oct. 29.
This same virus has infected other students on campus as well. Dan Falk, Dean of Students, said four students on campus have had confirmed cases of H1N1.
Students who have the virus have the choice of going home or staying in a quarantined room on campus until they are healthy again. There was a rumor the school would be closed for a period of time if the cases reached a certain number, but Falk says there is no truth to that statement.
With the help of Cowley County Health Department Falk is hopeful more students won’t be infected by the virus. Falk said The Cowley County Health Department is working on trying to get free vaccinations for students. The state was only allotted so many vaccinations. People who are 24 and younger or the biggest at risk group, so that determines how many vaccinations go to each area of the state. “I contacted David Brazil, the director of the Cowley County Health Department, and told him we would like to have a vaccination spot and he was happy about that. They will give us three to five days notice and they expected it to happen in late October or November,” said Falk.
There are two different types of vaccinations. The first is a nasal spray or a Live, Attenuated Intranasal Vaccine (LAIV). It does not contain preservatives and can be given to people between the ages of 2 and 49. The vaccination contains a weakened virus, but will not cause sickness. Falk says this may not be accessible to students because the state has run out of this type of vaccination.
Also available is a regular shot. This is an inactivated vaccine or a vaccine which contains a killed virus. It is injected directly into the muscle. Students will have access to this vaccination.
As of now a site for administering the vaccinations has not been determined, but the old Book Cave is being considered due to the amount of space which is needed. Falk urges students to take advantage of this opportunity. “A vaccination will boost your immunization and keep you healthier. Students don’t think that they are the ones who are going to get sick, but they really should be sure to get one.”
Until then, students, faculty and staff should take precautions to prevent themselves from getting sick and go home if symptoms, especially fever, arise. Falk said, “We live so close together that it is important to keep ourselves healthy.”
Cameron Siefkes is a senior majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.