Swine flu skips Coconino County for now, moves to S. Hemisphere

NAU ended the spring semester unscathed by the H1N1 virus, but campus officials are preparing for the fall as they monitor the virus that is spreading worldwide.

Fronske Health Center did not have any patients with influenza-like illness last week after a flurry of activity in previous weeks when an NAU student was thought to be a “probable” victim. Tests later confirmed she did not have the virus.

An NAU web site set up to address H1N1 received more than 10,000 unique visitors.

Anne Schuchat, interim deputy director for Science and Public Health at the Centers for Disease Control, said officials will monitor the virus—known as the swine flu—as it begins circulation through the Southern Hemisphere.

For now, however, a lot of questions remain.

“We don’t know whether the novel H1N1 virus will circulate in the United States next fall, and if it circulates, whether it will be more severe, of similar severity or less severe than now,” Schuchat said. “We think that if we have good information coming from the Southern Hemisphere and we see a lot of disease or severe disease associated with this virus, that it would increase the likelihood that we would continue to see problems in the fall.”

Coconino County does not have a confirmed case of swine flu as of this week, but Arizona has nearly 190 confirmed cases.

The Coconino County Health Department reports that the symptoms of swine flu are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Fronske and the health department recommend the following preventative measures:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.