Pulling a Ferris Bueller with the H1N1 Virus

The frenzy and panic caused by the emergence of H1N1 in the 2008-2009 school year has returned once again this fall.

Already, four UC Irvine students have been diagnosed with the virus.

The 2009 H1N1 is a new influenza virus that has grown from an epidemic to a pandemic, expanding into the global community.

According to teams of medical professionals nationwide, this virulent disease could kill up to 90,000 people living in the United States during the flu season of 2009-2010.

Students may wonder what such numbers and statistics represent and why they should care.

Walking across campus as a daily routine, let alone living at UCI, places every student and faculty member within close proximity ofeach other, increasing the probability they will contract and spread the flu.

However, there is hope.

On Thursday, October 1, Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed that the campaign to distribute vaccinations has begun.

On Tuesday, October 6, 25 areas across the country will receive the first wave of the vaccine .

Receiving this initial batch of vaccines, which will be in nasal-spray form, two weeks earlier than expected provides some optimism for health experts, who were previously worried that the vaccines might not have been available in time for the flu season.

Six or seven million doses will be accessible within the first week of October, according to the US government.

Nonetheless, it is still crucial for people to take precautionary steps to avoid catching the flu.

Students may have noticed an increased number of hand sanitizer dispensers placed throughout the campus facilities and offices. This is certainly not a coincidence, but represents just one of many collaborative efforts to prioritize public hygiene.

Linda Bogue, Emergency Management Coordinator from the Environmental Health and Safety center at UC Irvine, shares her preventative measures.

“People are advised to keep up normal eating habits, exercise, get plenty of rest and all those good things you would normally do for good health,” said BogueAdditionally, students who are ill are advised to not attend school.

“Students are being advised to notify their instructor through email or telephone,and let them know that they have flu-like symptoms and that they’re staying home,” said Sheila Hedayati, Manager of Biosafety and Employee Health Programs.

A local student described her sister’s bout with the swine flu as “hellish.”

Jessica Irvine’s sister, Allison, contracted the swine flu from a friend in August.

Being bedridden for two weeks had disabled Allison from participating in four musical theater shows as well as prohibiting her from making other commitments.

“It has made me more aware, and reminded us that our generation is not immune to these things. It’s not just a threat to older people, but to all of us,” said Irvine.

It is imperative that all Anteaters not only take steps to avoid and prepare for the H1N1 virus, but also understand how the swine flu works.

Three days after contraction, one will start to experience symptoms such as aches and pains. It is only after a week can the difference between a regular flu and the swine flu be distinguished.

A person with the swine flu would experience breathing problems and should seek medical treatment immediately.

For further updated information regarding the H1N1 virus, consult the CDC US government and the UC Irvine EH&S websites.