When pigs fly-college won’t close for swine flu

Despite the flu season, classes will remain in session at Albion College.

 According to Donna Randall, Albion College president, the campus would not close down for the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as the swine flu. However, faculty have the right to cancel class if there are a critical number of students missing.

 “We believe (flu) will come in waves, where there are some really high points of infection and some low points,” Randall said. “That’s another reason why we wouldn’t close the campus down— (flu) will constantly fluctuate between different stages where lots of people get it and no one gets it.”

 According to Ola Olapade, professor of biology, the swine flu is similar to the seasonal flu virus but the swine flu has a segmented genome that causes rapid mutation, making it harder to fight.

 “It’s not totally anomalous,” Olapade said. “People just haven’t seen it in recent years.”

  Olapade, who teaches a class in virology, said the elderly population was exposed to some form of swine flu in the mid twentieth century, which explains why the elderly have a lower priority towards getting the H1N1 vaccine than younger people, who do not have the antibodies built up to combat the virus.

Last week Student Affairs alerted the campus community that four unconfirmed cases of H1N1 in students were reported to Student Health Services (as of September 29). According to Olapade, the carrier of the virus is referred to as the reservoir, and is the most dangerous to be exposed to because they are carrying copious amounts of the virus, which leads to problems in high density areas such as colleges. Since the reservoir may not know they have swine flu, it is important to be diligent about hygiene and taking basic personal health precautions such as washing hands and covering noses to protect oneself and others.

 Despite the four cases, Randall reiterated that the college would not completely shut down.

“We’ve been preparing for the flu for about six months,” Randall said. “It was never a matter of if (flu) would come but when it would arrive.”

More information on how to prevent oneself from contracting the virus can be found at the Student Health Services Web site.

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