The H1N1 "swine flu" virus has sickened more than 200 students at Oregon State University in the past two weeks, according to Phill Histand, the director of Health Services at OSU. However, as of Thursday, no student's illness had required hospitalization.
"Other schools were getting it," Histand said. "So we were expecting it to show up here this fall. We just weren't certain when."
Histand said the severity of the flu has varied. Some students have been very sick with high fevers and bad coughs for three to five days. For most of the infected students, the H1N1 strain of the flu has hit them like a bad cold.
Histand theorized that even more H1N1-infected students on campus may not have visited the student health service office, shrugging off their sniffles and aches as a cold.
Histand said having a modular building placed next to Plageman Student Health Center to treat additional students has helped.
"The staff has worked very hard," Histand said. "We've had to stay late often. We haven't officially extended our hours, but we stay as long as we need to to make sure the students are treated."
But if 500 more students are diagnosed with H1N1 in the coming weeks, officials might have to lengthen service hours and take other steps to assure that students both sick and well receive proper treatment.
For now, the OSU Student Health Services is telling students that the best way to cope with the flu is to avoid coming down with the virus.
"It's the same things we have been telling people all along," Histand said: "Wash your hands, cover your coughs. If you get sick, stay home until 24 hours after you've had a fever."
In fact, that good advice is all that health officials can offer in the way of prevention just now.
Student health services is out of seasonal flu vaccine, and the H1N1 flu shots won't be available until later this month. At that time, students can have the shots charged to their student accounts. More information about OSU's H1N1 swine flu prevention policies and guidelines are available at http://alert.oregonstate.