UTPA prepared for the H1N1 virus
Contact: Kristen Cabrera, Intern 381-2741
Posted: 09/15/2009
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The University of Texas-Pan American has taken the steps to be prepared in case of a H1N1 flu outbreak, according to the University's Student Health Services Director, Rick Gray.

"We're doing everything we can to get ready for it. We know there's going to be sick kids and we're here to take care of them," Gray said.

Signs like the one pictured have been posted in all University restrooms to remind students, faculty and staff of the best preventive measures to avoid contracting the flu.
During the summer, the health services staff worked to put together information on the H1N1 virus which has been out in an e-mail to the University community. In addition to providing information about the virus, the health center has been planning with other university departments should there be an outbreak.

The planning included discussions with Director of Residence Life Eric Booth, about organizing ways to isolate the spread of the virus throughout the dormitories.

"We have a plan of what parts of the residence hall they can go to be self isolated, how they're going to get fed, and who's going to keep an eye on them," Gray said.

Preparations are also being made for the provision of vaccinations for members of the University community.

"We have plans for immunizations for both the seasonal vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine when those start arriving. We have started a plan in place on how to get those to anyone who wants them. When H1N1 vaccines arrive we are working with the health science department to set up some mass immunization clinics for students, staff and faculty," Gray said.

The H1N1 vaccinations are set to arrive late October or early November in conjunction with the Texas Department of Health, said Gray who requested 5,000 vaccines. However, due to supply and rationing, that number is not guaranteed. He also said the seasonal flu vaccines are scheduled to arrive any day now and once here, the University community will be notified.

The seasonal flu vaccines, which previously cost $15, will be free this semester. The H1N1 vaccines, provided by the U.S. Government, are also free.

The Student Health Services staff at UTPA advises frequent and thorough handwashing as one of the top ways to combat the spread of any flu virus. For more information about UTPA's plans to address the upcoming flu season, call 381-2511.
In order to contain the spread of the flu virus Gray is reiterating what the State Health Department is advising when symptoms of the flu are first noticed. If students, faculty or staff are experiencing any common flu symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, body aches, and fever, they should stay home or in their room until 24 hours after they are fever free, without having taken any fever-reducing medication within those 24 hours.

The medically trained Student Health Services professionals also follow this recommendation Gray said.

"We, the staff, have plans that if we're sick to try and stay home. We wash our hands all the time and try to teach everybody proper cough etiquette. Everyone should follow the "The Three C's": clean (properly wash your hands frequently), cover (cover your cough and sneeze), and contain (contain your germs by staying home when you are sick)," he said.

Gray also said coming in to get treated for the symptoms early is key to getting some sort of relief.

"If you come in within 24 hours of starting to feel sick, then the anti-viral medicine can help with some symptoms. But if you come in three or four days after having the symptoms there's not much we can do," Gray said.

Though cases of H1N1 have already appeared at other college campuses, Gray said that there are no particular characteristics of H1N1 that are drastically different than the seasonal flu.

For more information or any questions, contact Student Health Services at 956/381-2511.