The flu: it's still out there
It's not over yet.
That's the message University of Louisville health officials want to convey when it comes to H1N1 (swine flu), seasonal flu and similar viruses on UofL's campuses.
While fewer cases of H1N1 have been reported in recent weeks, the virus remains a health threat. Ruth Carrico, assistant professor for UofL's Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, worries that relaxed attitudes toward flu prevention could set the stage for an H1N1 comeback and contribute to the spread of seasonal flu.
"We could easily see another wave of H1N1 in 2010," Carrico said. "It's important for everyone to keep practicing preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, use of hand sanitizer and, of course, getting vaccinated."
For the UofL campus community, getting the free H1N1 vaccine is easier than ever, according to Phil Bressoud, executive director of Campus Health Services.
"Plenty of H1N1 vaccine doses are ready to go and no appointment is necessary," he said, noting however, that seasonal flu supplies are nearly depleted (fewer than 100 doses).
People who plan to get the H1N1 vaccine at Campus Health Services should go during the following hours:
- HSC Campus: Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (opens at 10 a.m. on Thursdays)
- Belknap Campus: Mon-Fri 9 - 11 a.m. and 1 - 4 p.m. (opens at 10 a.m. on Thursdays)
The consent form (necessary for the H1N1 vaccine) can be downloaded in advance at louisville.edu/update/flu, or it can be completed at the clinic prior to getting the vaccine.
Last semester-amid heightened concerns over a major epidemic-Campus Health Services began tracking the number of students who visited or called to report flu-like illnesses. The weekly count helped university officials track the rise and fall of flu-like illnesses on campus. But despite early concerns, the numbers were never significant. In fact, the highest number reported was during the week of Oct. 19 when 23 illnesses were reported. After that, the number declined quickly. By the last full week of classes for the 2009 fall semester, just two students reported having a flu-like illness.
Bressoud said he is greatly relieved that UofL avoided an influenza epidemic in 2009 and hopes that in 2010 people will continue to get vaccinated.