The H1N1 flu, more commonly known as “swine flu” and more affectionately referred to by Deerfield students as “swine ’09” managed to spread to 122 DA students within 25 days before Thanksgiving vacation. Now that the campus seems to be recovering from its days of the flu, it is time to acknowledge to what extent H1N1 has affected the Deerfield community.
Unfortunately the peak number of cases of swine seemed to fall neatly in time with fall exams. Thomas Cowan ’13 recalled suffering with the flu the week before exams. Along with a number of other students who had to make up exams due to illness, Cowan took his exams on the Monday and Tuesday after break; however, Cowan’s main disappointment was in athletics, “I was going to try for varsity squash but was unable to make the try-outs and ended up in j.v.”
Athletically, though some teams seemed at a disadvantage with players missing or sick, Deerfield seemed to avoid the worst effects of the flu. Athletic Director Chip Davis said, “Two of our peer schools were cancelling several varsity contests on account of the flu… I believe we only cancelled one sub-V event the whole fall due to the outbreak.”
As far as the threat of another H1N1 outbreak on campus is concerned Director of Health Services Thomas Hagamen estimates that, owing to what is referred to as “herd immunity,” the magnitude of cases seen before break will most likely not occur again. With half or more of the student population immune from already having gone through the flu or immune due to the vaccine, it makes it much more difficult for the highly contagious influenza to spread. “Fifty to sixty percent of the student population is probably immune,” Dr. Hagamen said, suggesting that the phenomenon of “herd immunity” is likely present in the community.
Though the threat of another break out of the H1N1 flu is not likely, there are three suggestions from Dr. Hagamen for those who wish to avoid the flu completely. The first is taking a trip to the health center to get the vaccine. “We expect more vaccine weekly throughout the winter,” Dr. Hagamen said and urged all who have not received the vaccine to do so.
The second bit of advice for skirting around the flu is to keep washing one’s hands. The bottles of hand sanitizer found in every corner of the school are there for a reason.
Finally, the third piece of advice is to stay away from others who are sick. Dorms and athletic teams are ideal places for any flu (especially one as contagious as swine) to spread, so avoiding contact with anyone with obvious symptoms is strongly advised. “I strongly encourage people come out and get the vaccine,” Dr. Hagamen said in conclusion. “By following this advice you can ensure the health of yourself and others.”