City College makes swine flu prevention a priority on campus

Emily Mather and Emily Mather

With the recent emergence of swine flu (or influenza A H1N1) here in the San Diego area, there is a growing concern about the severity and scope of a potential outbreak.

A letter from the San Diego Community College District, dated April 30, states that one confirmed case and “a few ‘probable’ cases have been reported at various campus and district sites.”

“As we work through this situation, we are placing a great emphasis on containment, prevention, and safety,” the letter went on to say.

In the meantime the district is making efforts to provide students on campus with “alternative hand washing options,” by installing Purell dispensers in areas around campus. The Learning Resource Center, the Fitness Center and the Cafeteria are several locations where dispensers have been installed. Dispensers for the Bookstore, Cosmetology building and CalWorks are waiting for disperser installation.

“Know that as this situation this month has unfolded, vendors have become inundated “with orders for Purell dispensers],” said City College Director of Student Health Services Dotti Cordell in a campus update posted April 30.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a total of 109 cases have been confirmed in the US, with only one fatality and worldwide, the numbers total 257 confirmed cases with 7 fatalities, according to the World Health Organization. However, these numbers should be taken in the context that the average yearly number of deaths related to regular seasonal flu in the US alone is around 36,000.

While it is wise to practice standard flu prevention methods such as frequent hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing, it is not recommended or necessary to wear a protective mask to lessen the chance of infection. The swine flu is not an airborne disease. It is contained in the water droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, so close contact is required for transmission from person to person. It is also important to know that there is absolutely no risk of contracting this disease from eating pork.

Just as with any public health threat of this nature, the United States Government has declared a public health emergency in order to allocate the resources necessary for combating and minimizing the effects of a pandemic situation. This mainly involves distributing supplies such as antiviral drugs and personal protective equipment to all 50 states, so that a quick response can be mounted in the event of a serious outbreak.

Currently there are no plans to institute travel restrictions for air travel or border crossings, though people exhibiting any flu-like symptoms are encouraged to delay any travel plans. Additionally, anyone experiencing serious symptoms after recent international travel should seek medical attention.