Fordham Prepares For Possible H1N1 Outbreak

Guidelines Established for Treatment, Prevention of H1N1 Virus


Published: September 24, 2009

Fordham University has established guidelines for the prevention and treatment of the H1N1 virus among its students, a measure taken in response to what health officials are calling a “real concern” for college students. Kathleen Malara, director of student health services said that Fordham health officials are taking the necessary steps to inform and educate the student population about the risks of the H1N1 virus and ways to prevent catching it.

According to health center protocol, students are cautioned to stay at home if they begin experiencing flu-like symptoms. The health center also asks that “students with any underlying health concerns such as asthma, diabetes or any immune deficiency condition” contact them immediately.

“Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and/or vomiting and diarrhea,” are defined by the health center as possible symptoms of the H1N1 virus.

“Though a vaccine for this strain of the flu will not become available until mid-to-late October, students are urged to get the available flu shot,” Malara said.

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC, commented on the steps the university is taking to prevent an outbreak.

“Hand sanitizers were installed in late spring as an early preventive measure,” Eldredge said. “An outside contractor has been hired by the health services department to prepare for an increase in flu vaccinations, making them available to faculty and staff as well.”

According to Eldredge, FCLC will not be shut down even in the event of an outbreak. Students that live within a 150-mile radius of campus are urged to return home if they contract the flu, but they will not be forced to do so.

“Self-isolation will be the first measure taken,” Eldredge said. “This means that students living in three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments will be asked to confine themselves to one room and one bathroom and separate themselves from their roommates.”

“In the event of a larger outbreak, Pope Auditorium will be used to house sick students because of its good ventilation system,” he said.

Alexander Collier, FCLC ’12, said that, though Fordham is addressing the issue, the university could be doing more.

“Fordham has been sending informative e-mails regularly and has hung posters throughout the campus, but I would have liked to have a more formal question-and-answer forum hosted by the medical center in which students could voice their questions and concerns,” Collier said.  According to Eldredge, student affairs is making no such plans.

Matthew Ortiz, FCLC ’12, said that his fear of the virus has been mainly fueled by media coverage.

“The media has made such a hysteria out of this virus that I have become almost paranoid about hygiene and germs,” he said.

Caitlin Docherty, FCLC ’13, said that she agreed with Ortiz and stated that “living in such close quarters makes the spread of any illness, especially one as contagious as H1N1, very easy.”

“As students in New York, we are almost forced to use public transportation, which is another way to easily contract the disease,” she said.

Both Eldredge and Malara said that while measures are being taken to ensure maximum student safety, they are not too worried with the lethality of the flu.

“The flu kills people every year, so in that regard I am not overly concerned for this flu season,” said Eldredge. He cited increased contagiousness and the target age group of college students as factors of greater relevance.

According to the New York Times, the CDC has made an advances in creating a vaccine for the H1N1 virus. The shot, which was initially intended to be administered in two treatments, has proven effective after only one dose in trials by the New England journal of Medicine, the Times article said.

According to both Eldredge and Malara, the health center will continue to keep students updated on the availability of an H1N1 vaccine.