Keeping College Students Informed about the Flu

College-age students are more vulnerable to swine flu than to regular winter flu. That's because they don't always see doctors or get regular vaccinations. Medical clinics at UH and Rice University are doing what they can to raise awareness about prevention of H1N1. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Since Monday, 187-students at Rice University have come to the campus health center with flu-like symptoms. 66 of those were confirmed as influenza. BJ Almond is director of news and media information at Rice. He says the kind of test the clinic uses does not distinguish which type of flu virus it is—swine flu or seasonal flu.

"When I said there are 187 students have been treated at the clinic. We think there's actually more students than that who've actually had the flu, but most of them know that there's no medication that they need to get through this, so they may not be bothering to come to the clinic to get treatment. And we've seen that the number of cases has started to decline over last few weeks."

Almond says they've been following the CDC guidelines: asking the students who are sick to stay in their rooms or recuperate at home if they have family in town. They're back in class after 1-to-5 days, the time it takes for the illness runs its course.

"Most of the students who are showing up with flu symptoms right now includes: fever above 100.4 degrees, in combination with a cough and or a sore throat. Those are the classic symptoms that we distinguish as the flu."

Across town, the University of Houston is also being aggressive about swine flu prevention, using a link on the university website to provide information. Floyd Robinson directs the University Health Center.

"We are actually doing a little but more here in that, we are also going out and talking with students. Last week, I spoke to fraternities, sororities,  and student groups. The students are certainly being well informed, plus they can plug in to our web page. And our web page tends to be very vibrant and when changes are announced, we immediately put them on our web page."

Robinson says unlike Rice University, students at UH are not coming to the health center in droves:

"We take all of those symptoms very seriously. If a patient calls us or does indeed visits us, we educate them and certainly we do check them out, but I would not say that we're seeing a steady stream, and that's pretty phenomenal again, because of the hype that's out there. You would think that anyone and everyone would be you know, knocking on our door. But we haven't had that yet. We've certainly have noticed that people are looking at our web page."

The self-isolation rule is being followed by students who have symptoms, but Robinson encourages anyone with questions to contact the health center at 713 743-5151. The web link can be found at www.uh.edu/admin/hc.

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...