Simpson reports first probable H1N1 case

by Zach JamesStaff Writer

Simpson officials notified students and faculty Thursday that there has been one “probable” case of a student with flu-like symptoms consistent with the H1N1 virus on Simpson’s campus. For privacy reasons, administrators are not releasing the student’s name.

“Based on all of the symptoms that the student has, it is reasonable to assume that this is an H1N1 case,” Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students, said.

According to Krauth, unless an individual has a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes or asthma, seeking a doctor is not necessarily recommended.

“If you’re healthy and start to have flu-like symptoms, they’re not really encouraging you always have to seek out your doctor because it is like the flu, and you have to work through it,” Krauth said. “If you seek out your doctor, they don’t always give tests because by the time they’re able to confirm whether or not it’s H1N1, you’re probably going to be healthy again.”

In a campus-wide e-mail sent Thursday, Jim Thorius, vice president for Student Development and dean of students, advised students to familiarize themselves with the virus and its symptoms.

“We encourage all members of the campus community to practice preventive behaviors…that are recommended by public health officials to minimize the spread of the flu virus and to become familiar with the signs and symptoms,” Thorius said.

Rita Audlehelm, director of Health Services, also suggested that students become familiar with the virus’ symptoms, which include fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. If students experience symptoms, Health Services has flu kits available.

Simpson’s campus officials are working with students to attend to any specific health care needs. If a student has flu-like symptoms, they should notify Health Services by phone or e-mail. Located on Health Services’ website,, is a “self-reporting illness form,” which students can complete without leaving their room.

Dining Services is also working with campus officials to directly provide meals to students who are not feeling well. If a student is experiencing symptoms and is unable to go home, school officials recommend several days of self-isolation.

“We readily recommend self-isolation from folks so you don’t spread it anymore,” Krauth said. “It’s probably easier for all involved if the healthy roommate bunks with someone else.”

Audlehelm recommended students wash their hands frequently with soap and water and cover their mouths with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.

“If students just do the simple things to stay healthy, they should not worry,” Audlehelm said.

The H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, has been prevalent throughout the country. According to the Center for Disease Control, H1N1 has caused 9,079 hospitalizations and 593 deaths in the United States since mid-April.

The virus has also affected colleges and universities. From Georgia Tech University in Atlanta to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, students are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Central College in Pella has reported one case of H1N1. Luther College in Decorah reported 54 suspected cases at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Jerry Johnson, the public information director at Luther, told the Simpsonian that the CDC had confirmed two cases on the campus earlier this week. Now Luther is treating all students with symptoms of H1N1 as suspected cases.

Audlehelm suggested that students receive a flu vaccination to help with prevention.

“The most preventative action is to get a flu shot not just for the H1N1 virus, but for the seasonal flu as well,” Audlehelm said.

Seasonal-flu shots will be administered on Tuesday, October 13, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the BSC Gallery and Wednesday, October 14, in the foyer of Pfeiffer Dining Hall from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The shots will cost $20.

Audlehelm said that Health Services has been in weekly contact with the Warren County Health Department about receiving H1N1 vaccine, which is not yet available to the public.

“We firmly believe that students can handle this, and take care of themselves,” Audlehelm said. “What we’re about is empowering them to do that.” – News editor Brittany Friesth contributed to this story.