Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass prepares for swine flu threat

Although it may have been the last thing on the minds of most University of Massachusetts students as they enjoyed their summer break, the very real possibility of a campus-wide outbreak of the swine flu (H1N1) virus over the upcoming semester has had university officials preparing for a wide range of possible scenarios.

On Thursday, it was widely reported by national media outlets that over 2,600 students at Washington State University have contracted swine flu, and that number could rise to as many as 9,000 students if CDC estimates are accurate. Such a situation occurring on the UMass campus is highly unlikely, but most university officials are weary of ruling anything out when preparing for the H1N1 virus, which is especially contagious among school-aged populations.

“Higher educational institutions, like K-12 schools, have been cited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as workplaces which may be impacted greater by the H1N1 virus than other workplaces due to the concentration of children and young adults 5 to 24 years of age,” said Juan A. Jarrett, assistant vice-chancellor for human resources, in a memo to UMass faculty and staff sent out last Friday.

“This age group has shown more susceptibility to the H1N1 virus,” continued the memorandum. “Reported cases of H1N1, or Swine flu, have remained steady this year, and the CDC expects reported cases of H1N1 to dramatically increase during this year’s upcoming flu season.”

One theory suggested by the CDC and others for the H1N1’s strong effects on young people is that they have not lived through other decades when the virus was more prevalent, and therefore have less natural resistance to the virus.

In a media briefing on Sep. 3, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control, estimated that the H1N1 vaccine will not be available until mid-October. Clinical trials into the effects of the vaccine are still ongoing, and the CDC has also suggested that as many as 40 percent of the population will come in contact with H1N1, despite the fact that most people will only exhibit minor symptoms.

“We have worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health,” said University of Massachusetts spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski. “We are certainly aware of federal guidance on the matter, and working closely on that front.”

The university has a number of suggestions for students and faculty to help them avoid coming in contact with the virus, including frequent hand-washing and limiting contact with those exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Jarrett’s memo also recommended that anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms themselves should visit their health care provider as soon as possible, “in order to decide the best course of action.”

University officials have based much of their response on existing federal guidelines for addressing the H1N1 threat in collegiate settings.

Besides taking cues from the government, Blaguszewski also noted that UMass is taking cues from peer institutions, as well.

“We are aware of what other colleges and universities are doing in institutions such as ours,” said Blaguszewski. “They are taking their lead from the public health officials in the state. We are well-prepared, but we need to monitor the situation closely.”

The UMass administration has sent out a number of emails to students in order to inform them of what they could face this semester, and the university seems intent on keeping the student body updated on what could be a rapidly-changing state of affairs.

“A lot of messages went out to parents and students as the semester approached,” said Blaguszewski. “There will be communication within residence halls [and elsewhere] as the semester goes on, with university students, faculty and staff.”

Students are advised to visit http://www.umass.edu/uhs/services/publichealth to get up to date information on H1N1, and to learn ways that one can avoid the virus.

Nick Bush can be reached at nbush@student.umass.edu.

Leave A Comment