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Swine flu outbreaks likely as students return to class

The H1N1 influenza virus hasn’t gone away since last spring’s outbreak, so Student Health and Counseling is reminding students to make efforts to prevent its spread.

“The H1N1 virus that we saw emerge in the springtime has been circulating and, besides moving across the world in a pandemic, there have been various outbreaks in the United States all summer long,” said SHAC Director Beverly Kloeppel. “Unlike the seasonal influenza, where we usually get a peak in the wintertime, this virus is still hanging around.”

Kloeppel said there have been recent outbreaks in northern New Mexico, and the number of cases might increase this month.

“The fact that we’re all gathering together as school starts makes the likelihood of a resurgence of the virus a high probability,” she said. “We hope that it doesn’t happen, but there’s a high probability of that.”

Several universities that opened last week have already seen outbreaks of the virus, Kloeppel said.
“There are multiple universities that have experienced outbreaks as classes have convened,” she said. “So we have a concern about that as well.”

Kloeppel said that whether H1N1 vaccines will be distributed in the fall is yet to be determined, but seasonal influenza vaccines will be available soon.

“We encourage everyone to get vaccines,” she said.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Soap hands for 15 seconds or as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Use alcohol-based hand gels when soap isn’t available. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid close contact with sick people — six feet is a good distance. If you have a fever, limit contact with others as much as possible. Stay home from school.

Source: UNM Student Health and Counseling

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