UCSB’s fall quarter and the 2009-2010 school year officially begins on Thursday, September 24. And the students arriving in Isla Vista and on campus are likely bringing with them new cases of H1N1, also known as swine flu. Officials base this belief largely off other college campuses that experienced second waves of influenza when students returned for class.
Specific precautions UCSB is taking include dispersing fliers that list health tips and directing students to the Student Health website for more information. For $8, students can purchase flu kits that include over-the-counter meds, tissues, hand sanitizer, a reusable thermometer, and a mask.
Beyond that, students are encouraged to avoid getting sick or spreading disease by practicing good hygiene. Tips include avoiding sick people; covering sneezes with a tissue, sleeve, or elbow; throwing away used tissues; not sharing food, drinks, or utensils; and frequently washing hands. Finally, students are asked to remain in their rooms for the first 24 hours of their infection, until their fever breaks.
Finally, all students are being encouraged to receive a regular, seasonal flu vaccination, which all students who have purchased health insurance through UCSB can get. Students who do not have the UC-issued insurance can still get one for free, but only 1,000 doses are available for non-insured students.
On the subject of swine flu, recent notices from the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health indicate that the 80 percent of flu infections are spread not by sneezing and coughing, but by hand-to-face contact. If people simply made a conscious effort not to touch their eyes, mouth, or nose with their hands, they’d reduce the chances of introducing disease into their bodies. Furthermore, cleaning surfaces that people might have reason to touch frequently may also reduce infection.