H1N1 cases decreasing

Mary Fisher

The number of presumed H1N1 cases reported is decreasing, said a St. Edward’s University health official.

“The week of Oct. 12 there were 23 cases while the week of Oct. 26 there were only six cases,” said William Pannabecker, director of the Health and Counseling Center at St. Edward’s. “However, that does not mean we won’t see a big surge in cases.”

Since August, the Health and Counseling Centerhas identified 192 H1N1 cases, said Pannabecker.

And, even though the cases are decreasing, the St. Edward’s population has experienced a slightly higher percentage rate than the nationwide average. About 5 percent of the St. Edward’s student body has been affected by H1N1, said Pannabecker, while the national rate of students affected by H1N1 is 2 percent, according to the American College Health Association.

Pannabecker believes the higher percentage was caused by the fact that more students sought treatment for their symptoms at the Health and Counseling Center.

“First, we mounted a very big education campaign to inform the campus about the risks of flu,” he said.  “Second, all our materials encouraged students to come to the Health and Counseling Center.”

It is still uncertain if St. Edward’s will receive any H1N1 vaccines.

“They are showing up in Texas, but they’re mostly going to young children and pregnant women,” said Pannabecker.

The Health and Counseling Center received a second shipment of 170 seasonal flu vaccines at the end of October. They had received first shipment earlier in the semester of about 170 vaccines. Pannabecker expects that 160 more seasonal flu vaccines will arrive soon.

“We still have about 25 vaccines left from the late October shipment,” said Pannabecker.

Even though the Health and Counseling Center is treating students for H1N1, it cannot confirm that the cases are H1N1.

“The testing for H1N1 has to be sent off, and it takes seven to 10 days,” said Pannabecker. “By the time it’s back, the person would be better.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided clinicians with recommendations for H1N1 testing.

“This season, most testing will be done in people who are seriously ill (hospitalized patients) and patients where testing may impact treatment decisions,” according to the CDC.

The CDC would also test for H1N1 if the patient dies and if the symptoms point to H1N1.

“We presume that our cases are H1N1 since they fit the symptom pattern,” said Pannabecker.

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