Colleges battle spreading flu bug
Posted September 23, 2009 6:05 p.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2009 6:32 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Despite the best efforts of university administrators, the H1N1 flu virus continues to spread on area college campuses.
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has reported about 850 cases of H1N1, or swine flu, since classes started last month. North Carolina State University has seen about 500 cases, Duke University has seen about 350 and North Carolina Central University has seen 78 cases.
UNC-Chapel Hill administrators have asked instructors to be lenient with students who get sick. Encouraging students to stay away from classes when they don't feel well helps limit the spread of the flu virus, they said.
"We ask the healthy roommate to move out for a time to stop the spread of the illness," said Mary Beth Koza, the university's director of environmental health and safety.
To keep ill students out of dining halls, UNC-Chapel Hill workers have packed bags with soup, Gatorade and enough food to last three days.
"I think, for the seriousness of the flu, they are handling it well," junior Andrew Magee said.
Senior Whitney Acres caught the H1N1 virus and had to be admitted to UNC Hospitals last week to be treated for dehydration.
"(It was) not fun at all. It was pretty horrible," Acres said.
She said she is still trying to get caught up on school work and is glad teachers are working with her.
"They were all really nice about me missing class and told me to stay at home and not to come to class," she said.
Duke also is delivering meals to sick students to keep the virus from spreading.
"We're prepared for what could be a spike. We are prepared for what could be a valley," said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke vice president for public affairs.
Schoenfeld said H1N1 hasn't yet gotten out of control at Duke because students are heeding warnings.
"They've understood it. They get it. They are, for the most part, practicing good hygiene," he said.