By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GSU swine flu rumors unfounded
Officials: Only one case recently confirmed
Placeholder Image
    Only seven cases of swine flu have been identified at Georgia Southern University since June, and only one of those cases has been diagnosed recently, said Dr. Brian DeLoach, GSU's Campus Health Services director.
    Amid rumors that the university will close due to vast numbers of swine flu cases, DeLoach said only 60 people have visited Campus Health Services with flu like symptoms. Only 28 of those were diagnosed as having Influenza A, and only one of those 28 was diagnosed as swine flu, or H1N1, a type of Influenza A strain.
    The university is not closing, nor is the university canceling events, he said. The panic over rumors of a swine flu epidemic is unwarranted.
    Swine flu, or H1N1, is actually not as severe as seasonal flu, DeLoach said Friday during a press conference at Bulloch County's Emergency Operations Center in the Arnold Ray Akins Public Safety Complex.
    DeLoach and Bulloch County Health Department Nurse Manager Cindi hart met Friday with members of various public safety agencies, as well as leaders from Ogeechee Technical College and the Bulloch County Board of Education, to discuss the presence of swine flu in the area.
    DeLoach said the numbers of people seen at the GSU clinic this fall is only 40 more than this time last year. "We're not that much busier than usual," he said. " The cases ( of swine flu) we have seen are relatively mild. Everyone has recovered as expected within a few days."
    DeLoach has been monitoring the H1N1 strain of flu since it first appeared in Mexico in April He activated an "influenza response committee:" that has met many times over the late spring and summer and continues to meet.
    DeLoach told the group at Friday's meeting there has been a great effort to educate students, faculty and staff and parents by distributing information about flu prevention, symptoms and what to do if you experience flu like symptoms, by e-mail, web page posts and fliers.
    The University followed Center for Disease Control guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting common areas, and urges students or anyone who is ill not to attend class or come to work on campus to help prevent the spread of illness. Students who are ill will not be penalized for absences and will be able to make up work, said GSU spokesman Betsy Nolen.
    DeLoach said more hand sanitizing stations have been installed around campus, and signs are posted to remind students to use them.
            According to Roger Naylor, Georgia Department of Public Health information coordinator, " ... H1N1 is a new strain of flu virus that spreads mainly from person-to-person through coughing  or sneezing of infected people.
            "The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu are similar to regular seasonal flu and
 include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with
 novel H1N1 also experience runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and
 diarrhea," he said.
         “We know people are getting sick with flu-like symptoms,” Hart said. "And we are working with our partners to make sure the public understands why it  is important for everyone to take the necessary precautions to prevent
     the spread of the flu, whether it is seasonal or novel H1N1."
        Cough into your elbow or a tissue, and wash hands often, she said. Again, if you are ill, stay home.
        DeLoach advises sick students to go home if feasible, and if not, to stay in their bedrooms at their local residence. If a sick person must go out, he advises them to wear masks, which are given to sick students who come t the clinic. He advises the best remedy for H1N1 or any flu like illness is " rest, fluids,  Tylenol or a fever reducer, and stay away from people."
            Bulloch County Assistant School Superintendent Charles Wilson said school nurses are being very vigilant and maintaining communication with the local health department and parents regarding swine flu and other flu like illnesses.
            Ogeechee Technical College's Public Relations Executive Director Barry Turner said there have been no cases of swine flu reported at OTC, but said the college is taking the same precautions and education efforts GSU is doing.
            Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn told the group all agencies are maintaining staffing schedules to compensate for possible absences due to illness, of  that or a child, to ensure emergency services are kept at proper level.
            Hart also provided a " Swine Flu Hotline" for people to call with questions or concerns. That number is (912) 489-0964.
 Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter