Student Health Officials Prepare for Possible Outbreak of H1N1 Flu
Campus health officials are preparing for what could be a second wave of the H1N1 “swine flu” this fall. The H1N1 pandemic has produced low-level, sporadic cases of the flu on campus, without any serious complications for students or staff, according to Dr. Elizabeth Downing, campus physician and director of the Student Health Service. There have been no deaths due to the virus in Santa Barbara County, according to county health officials.
With the start of the fall quarter, “one issue of concern for our campus community is the prospect of a challenging flu season, with anticipated increases nationwide in the number of cases of H1N1 flu,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang in a message sent to all faculty and staff members. “I want to assure you that our campus has been planning carefully for the months ahead.” Campus health officials, he added, have been working diligently “to implement the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.”
Student Health officials meet regularly with officials from the Santa Barbara County Health Department to discuss the H1N1 pandemic and monitor its progress in the county. This strain of H1N1 appears no more virulent than most seasonal flu, Dr. Downing said. While few cases were reported at UCSB in August, the campus expects to see increased numbers this fall, consistent with what is happening in communities and colleges throughout the country.
“For many years, UCSB has had emergency plans in place to address wide-ranging campus issues and health concerns,” Dr. Downing said in a statement to the campus issued jointly with Michael Young, vice chancellor for student affairs. “We have extended these preparedness efforts in order to respond to the H1N1 pandemic.”
Student Health officials have distributed “Tips on Staying Healthy” fliers to incoming freshmen and to other students in campus residence halls, as well as student residences in Isla Vista. The Student Health Web site <http://studenthealth.sa.ucsb.edu
> includes timely updates on the H1N1 flu situation, as well as numerous health links and videos. Flu Paks containing over-the-counter medications, tissues, hand sanitizer, a reusable thermometer, and mask will be available for purchase ($8) in residence halls and at the Student Health Service.