As flu season rolls in, local schools hit hard

Jayne Durnin/Staff Writer

It’s a pandemic of epic proportions. It has sparked controversy and fear around the world and headlines the news almost everyday. Swine flu, H1N1 and Novel influenza A. You’ve more than likely heard of it and may have fallen victim to it.

H1N1 was first a strain of flu that only affected swine. It was first susceptible to humans in March and April 2009, originating in Mexico. The United States has become the country with the most diagnosed cases of H1N1 as of then, although most people struck ill are able to recover without any medical treatment.

The disease has also hit Cedar Falls High School. You may have noticed an unusually high number of student absences so far this year.
“On the 21st, 114 students were absent due to illness, that’s 11 percent,” said school nurse Sue Gettman, “Many students are complaining of a fever, cough, sore throat, headaches and some body aches.”

Local doctors aren’t testing people off the street for H1N1 because their labs are already busy enough. They realize that it’s here, all the symptoms indicate it.

“The hospitals are only testing for influenza A on admitted patients,” said Gettman, “They are doing random tests for H1N1 on the people that already tested positive for the flu. Of the people tested for H1N1, every one of them tested positive.”

Currently, hospitals all around the United States are having to order more vaccines, because the demand is so high. There are two types of vaccines, a nasal spray and a shot. The nasal spray is made with live, weakened viruses that do not cause the flu. The shot is made with inactive, or killed, viruses. Both the spray and the shot are yielding the same results. It is also recommended that recipients of the H1N1 shot also receive a seasonal flu shot.
There have been some changes in the school to prevent the spreading of the virus.

“We are really encouraging hand washing and have installed hand sanitizers in the cafeteria to promote that. The custodial staff has been amping up their efforts of washing things that students touch most, like doorknobs and desktops,” said Gettman.

“Also, we are encouraging teachers to send students who are complaining of symptoms to the nurse’s office. We are telling the students at home to wait 24 hours after their fever has gone down, without the use of fever reducers, to come back to school,” she added.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of flu season so many more cases are expected. Faculty and students have been warned against taking this lightly, and to follow all necessary precautions to stay healthy.

Class of 2014

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