Swine flu hits Towson University hard

By Adam Salk
TU journalism student | Oct.  7, 2009

The H1N1 swine flu epidemic as hit hard and early, and Towson, Md. is no exception.

As the early days of October  roll around, the swine flu has already affected this college campus in large numbers.

In early September Towson University administered flu shots to students, and others on campus in the university union. However, this flu shot was not for the swine flu. This issue is one that many people will have to deal with, as the flu season gets worse.

There are two types of the flu that are going around, the general flu, and the swine flu. However, “swine flu shots probably wont make it to the general public,” said Dr. Neal Frankel of the St. Joseph Hospital in Towson.

The swine flu shot is being reserved for those who have already been diagnosed, or for those who have other illnesses (such as asthma) that may interact and increase the severity of the flu.

The symptoms of the swine flu are the same as the regular flu. Headache, fever, cough, congestion, and diarrhea are some of the common symptoms. If you feel the affects of the flu consult online resources or medical professionals.

One of the most difficult issues with this current outbreak of H1N1 is the fact that doctors cannot accurately determine if you have swine or the general flu.

“The test is a nose swab, but it isn’t accurate and is uncomfortable,” said  Frankel.

In addition, the speed at which the test is returned to the patient has been something of concern.

“I was sick for a week, and then I felt better for another week before I got the results back from Dowel Health center,”  said Towson junior Ashley Pierno.

Ashley Pierno is a junior at Towson University. Like many students she caught the H1N1 swine flu and felt its ill affects. (Photo by Adam Salk, Oct. 6, 2009)

Ashley Pierno is a junior at Towson University. Like many students she caught the H1N1 swine flu and felt its ill affects. (Photo by Adam Salk, Oct. 6, 2009)

Pierno is one of many students who caught the swine flu from friends and roommates.

Although the swine flu symptoms are no worse than the regular flu, “people are catching it easier,” said Frankel.

Because Pierno is an off-campus resident, she was not quarantined like many campus residents were.

This recent outbreak of swine flu has spread so rapidly, even before the normal January to February peak, that university officials are preventing interaction between diagnosed patients and other students.Freshman Gabby Gelfen discusses the issue of living in a dorm where diagnosed students have been quarantined.

In addition to the university, Towsons local hospital, St. Joseph Hospital has felt the effects.

“The local emergency volume as increased by 60 percent, some of which is attributed to the swine flue,” said  Frankel.

On an average day, the hospital is seeing five cases per health care provider per day, and there are ten providers. This would mean that 50 people per day are coming to the local Towson hospital with swine symptoms.

As with any pandemic, the biggest fear is death. Swine flu has claimed 191 deaths nationally since Sept. 20. In addition, Dr. Frankel knew of at least one student death at University of Maryland.

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