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The H1N1 Virus: Information and Prevention

Submitted by on September 5, 2009 – 7:44 amNo Comment

Dr.-Norman-Stephens-wide

A number of employees and students have asked about H1N1, the influenza virus that has been inaccurately called “Swine Flu” and that has received considerable attention from the local and national media. Since last spring when this virus was first reported, we have followed the advice of the experts at the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and the Highlands County Health Department. The future course of this disease is difficult to predict, and that is why it is getting so much attention. Worry about what might occur this fall and winter is causing us to pay close attention. 
 
We are communicating prevention measures through a number of mechanisms including through our website at www.SouthFlorida.edu.  Information has been provided to employees and hand-washing and basic prevention practices have been posted in campus restrooms and throughout our campuses.  We’ve distributed flyers in high volume student areas and trained our custodial staff in the proper methods for cleaning potentially infected areas. As soon as a vaccine is available, we will work with the Highlands County Health Department to organize a vaccination program for our employees, students, and others. 
 
The risk groups for H1N1 seem to be different than for seasonal flu. This virus seems to affect pregnant women and young children as well as individuals from 25 to 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications such as asthma and diabetes. Older adults who would be susceptible to seasonal flu seem to have some immunity to H1N1. According to the Health Department in a press release on September 3, there have been no deaths related to this virus in Highlands County and most people who have become ill have recovered without requiring medical treatment. The release stated “. . . for the majority of the population it will be like any other flu.”  Let’s hope that is the case.  If we take steps to inform ourselves and our friends and colleagues about the H1N1 virus, we can make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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