By Marissa Woltanski
The H1N1 virus – more commonly known as swine flu – has struck the Rogue Valley, and Rogue Community College wants its staff and students to use common sense precautions to protect themselves and their families.
“It’s appropriate to be concerned, this is a pandemic and it’s a widespread new virus,” said Dr. Steve Wells, a Family Physician of La Clinica and a member of the H1N1 Jackson County Medical Advisory Committee to the Health Department. “Those born after 1959 have no natural immunity.”
Wells says the outbreak has been stressing local health and human services. Jackson County is in the final stages of setting up an H1N1 telephone triage line, for citizens to call into if they need assistance.
Wells said that the triage line should hopefully be up sometime in late October, and they are currently looking for nurses and other volunteers to staff the hotline.
In a communication posted by Cheryl Markwell, Dean of Instruction, CAO, on the RCC H1N1 webpage, “The College is approaching H1N1 from a self-responsibility standpoint: each student and staff member needs to act in the best interest of their own health.”
“Don’t go to school if your sick,” Wells said. “You should stay out of school or work.”
In the event that you do become ill, it is recom-mended that you stay at home unless you are experiencing difficulty breathing.
“You should stay away from the emergency room for the community’s sake,” Wells said, and for the sake of ER staff, who he notes is also overworked.
According to Wells, everyone under the age of 24 is at higher risk, and he recommends receiving the H1N1 vaccine. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and you are not suffering from any chronic illnesses, Wells recommends you call your family doctor, who can advise you and an appropriate course of treatment.
Wells said that Jackson County is expecting shipments of the injectable version of the H1N1 vaccine in the coming week.
“As we saw with the first wave of H1N1 this spring, outbreaks like this typically lasts 10 weeks and currently we are about 3 weeks in,” Wells said.