Isham Hopes Swine Flu Is winding down

Isham Health Center may finally be seeing the last of the H1N1 virus on campus. As the second major outbreak of swine flu calms down, Richard Keller, School Physician, predicts that Andover may be seeing the last of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. As of Wednesday, Isham Health Center has seen 117 cases of the H1N1 virus, Keller said. In this second peak of outbreaks, the virus has demonstrated less severe symptoms than that of the first peak. The virus of the second peak also generally lasts for two to three days, a shorter duration than that of the seasonal flu. “Things have been on the decline for the last five days,” Keller said. “[Isham] has been relatively quiet.” Keller said that two high points of outbreaks have occurred on campus, the first in the second week of fall term, and the second peak a few days afterwards. “The few cases that we have been seeing are even more mild than the typical flu that we see in the winter,” he saidß. Although all students with flu-like symptoms are assumed to be H1N1 patients, none of the students at Andover has been officially tested for the virus. By applying this policy, Isham is adhering to a decision from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Our cases are all likely H1N1, but our state is not interested in testing every case,” said Keller. According to the CDC, Massachusetts is one of the few states with a sporadic presence of the H1N1 virus, rather than a continual flow of cases. As a result, the CDC has chosen to test virus samples from select areas only. Despite a declining number of sick students, Isham will not be adjusting its current treatment policies. “The decision to respond to H1N1 in this way is an administrative decision, which all of our peer schools are echoing,” said Keller. Current precautions include isolating students who demonstrate flu-like symptoms and requesting that parents pick up any sick students who live within a 250-mile radius of Andover. “Precautions won’t be lifted until the students are vaccinated for the H1N1 virus,” said Keller. Isham vaccinated around 100 students for seasonal flu two weeks ago and is currently waiting on a second delivery of vaccines from the CDC. Keller expects that Isham will receive the second batch before Thanksgiving break. “We were given a supply of about 100 [vaccinations] and it was gone in about an hour and a half. The line [for vaccinations] ran out the door,” said Keller. In the wake of the H1N1 outbreak, seasonal flu vaccines have been in high demand across the nation and, as a result, many health care facilities have yet to receive their supply. Keller said that the CDC has been focusing on hospitals and private practices, but Isham should recieve more vaccines soon. “Forty percent of the country’s seasonal flu vaccines have not been filled, and unfortunately, Isham is in that percentage,” said Keller. Keller said Isham will continue to deal with H1N1 cases as the term continues and predicts that in the winter term, the seasonal flu will take precedence over H1N1. “Andover will certainly be dealing with H1N1 virus for the rest of the term, and continuing to enforce the same policies of isolation. Winter term is when we can begin to differentiate between the H1N1 virus and the seasonal flu,” said Keller.