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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Confirmed cases on H1N1 on campus

Cases of the H1N1 virus, or “swine flu,” have been confirmed on the Grinnell campus, causing approximately 25 students to be quarantined.

“I knew [H1N1] would be here,” said Director of the Grinnell College Health Center Karen Cochran. “We just need to make sure no one gets so sick [that] they need more than rest and fever reducers.”

The school has responded to student illnesses by quarantining infected students in their dorm rooms. Any student with a fever over 100 degrees is told to stay in their room until they have been without a fever for 24 hours. These students are also issued “sick kits” that include surgical masks, and are told to stay in their rooms and wear a mask when going to the bathroom. Bagged meals are provided from Dining Services. All students who are quarantined get evaluated by a doctor at the Grinnell Regional Medical Center, and are asked to call the Health Center daily to check-in.

Cochran said that despite the quarantines, H1N1 cannot be completely contained, largely due to the fact that people are contagious 24 hours before they exhibit any symptoms. It is not confirmed that everyone quarantined has had H1N1 and not another illness, but it is confirmed from blood tests that at least two individuals with H1N1 is on campus.
“The cows are out of the barn, so to speak,” Cochran said.

The first infected student was quarantined on Sept. 25, but the highest number of cases recorded on campus has been so far in the week of Oct. 12. In that week alone, there were over 400 student visits to the Health Center. This number includes those students who have believed they had H1N1 when they simply had lower-level symptoms. The number of contracted cases this week has “tapered off,” Cochran said.

Those on campus who have had the H1N1 virus experienced relatively mild symptoms. “I only had a mild fever but I had a serious cough,” said Will Bennett ’13, who had H1N1 over Fall Break. “I had a mask and just tried to stay away from people.”
Currently, there are no H1N1 vaccines available on campus, but Cochran has been discussing the possibility of giving vaccinations to the general student body with the Public Health Department of Grinnell Regional Medical Center. The vaccine would be available at the clinic on campus within the two weeks of approval from Friday. Cochran plans to send out an all-campus email when the vaccine becomes available.

According to Cochran, only students who fall under the Tier 1 category of the H1N1 risk groups currently have access to the vaccine. This category, defined by the government’s Center for Disease Control, includes students who are 18 years or younger and have chronic medical conditions, such as asthma. Individuals who are pregnant are also included. These students will be able to get vaccinated at the medical center in the coming days.

Despite the number of cases on campus and seemingly continuous discussion on campus, students remain relatively unruffled. “I’m not worried about any type of flu,” said Wendy Ren ’13. “The news media has made too big a fuss about it.”

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