Colleges prepare for Swine Flu

August 13, 2009 3:07:51 PM PDT
Thousands of people converge on college campuses every year, But this fall, an unwelcome visitor - the H1N1 Swine Flu virus - could wreak havoc."The fact that it could spread so quickly in such a small area with so many people - that kind of concerns me," offered Duke student Conner Hoppe.

And it concerns universities throughout the Triangle.

"We're making plans and reviewing contingency plans for things like if our food supply is disrupted. What if a third of our workforce is out? So, we have to have a lot of 'what if' contingency plans," explained Mike Schoenfeld with Duke University.

That's only for the worst case scenario. Meantime, with 13,000 students and 35,000 employees, Duke University has some new rules for people feeling under the weather.

"The guidelines for faculty and staff will be the same for students: stay home until 24 hours after your fever breaks and then you'll be okay to come back," said Schoenfeld.

Duke Medical Center workers in contact with patients could be out of work for a week. The idea is to limit exposure while an infected person is still contagious. Additional time off will be provided should anyone run out of sick leave.

The other plan of action is awareness.

"I know that I should be aware when I'm in public places of washing my hands - being thoughtful of where I'm at - otherwise, I'm not too concerned," said student Andrew Nelson.

"We're going to really focus on education. The best way to avoid the flu is to prevent the flu," said Schoenfeld.

The university is offering free flu vaccinations for students, faculty and staff. If and when a Swine Flu vaccine becomes available, it will also be offered to those who want it.


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