Influenza Update for IUP Community

Posted on 10/29/2009 10:19:05 AM

October 27, 2009—Information specific to IUP

Cold and flu season is definitely here!

  • Health Service visits are only slightly higher than last year at this time.  October is a notoriously busy month each year, so this may be due just to the new location and increased accessibility.
  • We do not have a disproportionate number of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) on campus.
  • We do have positive cases of H1N1 in this county.  We have positive cases of Influenza A seen in the Health Service on campus (Influenza A is probable for H1N1 at this time of the year).
  • Students seen at the IUP Health Service are not specifically told they have “Swine Flu.”  Testing for the specific H1N1 virus is restricted by the state Department of Health.  We are testing for Influenza A locally.  Patients will be told whether they have Influenza A or not and, if positive for “flu,” are recommended to reduce the spread of the disease by staying “home” until fever free for twenty-four hours without medicine.  (Indiana Regional Medical Center has told students to stay home for up to seven days.)
  • Seasonal flu vaccine is in very short supply all over the country.  H1N1 vaccine has not yet arrived on campus.
  • IUP has given eight hundred doses of seasonal flu vaccine to students thus far.  We have ordered more and it may arrive soon as FluMist, which has more limited indications but will be made available to students.
  • IUP gave 310 doses out of 710 for staff and faculty thus far.   The second clinic is scheduled for October 30, 2009.  Vaccine for it has arrived and is the FluMist version not recommended for persons age fifty or over, or for those with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease.
  • H1N1 vaccine is ordered through the PA Vaccine program and will be free.  No guarantees of date or quantity have been made.  We are coordinating with Indiana County’s HHS Committee.  Projections are for mid-November, which is still plenty of time to be vaccinated for H1N1 flu.  Depending on how many doses are provided, it would be given as a mass clinic in a location such as the Field House.

Information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

Flu activity continues to be widespread.

  • We now have more flu reported than what we had during the winter and spring waves of the season
  • Sharp increase in flu activity noted in all but the North Central Pennsylvania region.
  • Flu in colleges may be tapering down, but children ten to eighteen years old continue to be disproportionately affected.
  • All the flu viruses currently circulating are the Pandemic A/H1N1 strain. However, 30 to 50 percent of specimens submitted each week are testing negative for influenza, an indication that there may be other respiratory viruses cocirculating with influenza.
  • Four percent (4%) of all outpatient visits reported by providers were due to Influenza-Like Illness, down from 5 percent reported the previous week. 
  • Eight percent (8%) of all college students seen by college reporting providers had Influenza-Like Illness.
  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of the 272 reporting schools reported Influenza-Like Illness of over 2 percent during week 40.

Statement from the American College Health Association President

“Among over 3 million students, we have observed nearly 56,000 cases of ILI.  But there have been only ninety-eight hospitalizations and no deaths, indicating this disease remains generally mild.  It is somewhat surprising to see resurgence of disease in regions that had seen recent declines.  This likely reflects the relative lack of natural immunity among young adults and students’ vulnerability to the infection.  We remain concerned about the risk of exposure to vulnerable students on our campuses and their potential to infect those in their communities or their families who are at higher risk for complications, hospitalization, or worse.  This recent return of flu helps reaffirm the importance of vaccination once it becomes available,” according to Dr. James C. Turner, president of the American College Health Association and executive director of the department of student health at the University of Virginia.