Aside from the “No Line in ’09” slogan plastered on the backs of the Cornell Hockey aficionados, little else remains as evidence of last semester’s swine flu pandemic. Since February, Gannett has diagnosed only 80 cases of “influenza-like illness” even though these months typically experience higher rates of flu illnesses, according to Jennifer Austin, Gannett communications specialist.As of Apr. 18, Gannett had diagnosed 1781 cases of “influenza-like illness” for the academic year, including 1628 cases by the end of November. The highest rates of infection occurred in September, peaking at 103 per day. 565 students were diagnosed with swine flu from Sept. 7 to Sept. 20, and on Sept. 11 Warren Schor ’11 died from swine flu complications. During that two-week period, Gannett cancelled routine appointments and organized extra staffing, while the IFC enforced a party moratorium.These trends mirror national reports from the CDC, which show that the pandemic continues but at low levels. During the first full week in April, most flu indicators — including visits to doctors for influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations rates — declined slightly.From April 3 through 10, 7 percent of all deaths reported through the 122-Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza, below the epidemic threshold of 7.7 percent. Outpatient visits for influenza-like illness also declined to 0.9 percent, below the national baseline of 2.3 percent. Although no states reported widespread influenza activity during this week, Alabama and Georgia reported regional activity. In addition, three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported for the week, including one confirmed as H1N1. John Mackenzie, head of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee, emphasized that swine flu remains a threat, especially to healthy young adults.“We are not seeing deaths in elderly but we are seeing them in a more important group of the population, healthy young adults,” Mackenzie told Reuters.Since Gannett primarily services these “healthy young adults,” it has continued its vigorous campaign against swine flu. This semester, the emphasis is on prevention strategies, such as vaccination and good hygiene. “Flu vaccine is still being recommended — and is available — for those who were not immunized earlier in the year,” Austin stated in an e-mail. “Although this is a stressful time of year, everyone can bolster their own immune systems with adequate sleep and nutrition.According to Austin, Gannett has continued monitoring flu prevalence nationally and will share any relevant information with the Cornell community. Still, she emphasized that individuals must take personal responsibility for preventing another outbreak adhering to Gannett’s prevention advice and by staying out of circulation if infected.Gannett has not decided whether last semester’s vaccination approach — offering fewer clinics but for longer hours to preserve staff resources — will be used next semester. Although the University has yet to determine a new pandemic plan for next semester, it will follow examples set by the CDC and the New York State Health Department.“[As] recommendations are shaped at the state and national level, Cornell representatives … will decide how to appropriately translate the recommendations to our campus,” Austin stated.But Gannett is not the only organization with preventative swine flu measures still in place. The IFC has continued sanitation measures started during last semester’s moratorium. According to IFC President Allen Miller ’11, the IFC has continued to place the health and safety of its members first, even after the decreased rates of infection. In addition, Miller highlighted how the swine flu pandemic prompted greater cooperation between the IFC and on-campus resources.
Original Author: Emily Greenberg