As students flocked back to campus last week and sorority recruitment was in full swing, the flu seemed to be running rampant around Miami University as well.
According to Tammy Gustin, acting director of student health services, the Student Health Services Center has noticed a drastic increase in the number of flu cases coming through the clinic.
“We’re currently seeing about 50 cases a day,” Gustin said. “Total traffic is about 150 patients per day, so about a third of that are cases of the flu.”
Gustin said that initially members of sororities were coming into the health center for treatment, but the center is now seeing more people outside of sorority recruitment.
According to Kelly Baird, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, the system of sorority recruitment has contributed to the spreading of the influenza virus.
“A thousand girls go through our suite and they go through all of the other rooms as well,” Baird said. “We’ve noticed (the flu) being a problem and we tell the girls not to come back to recruitment if they are sick.”
Kappa Kappa Gamma seems to have been especially hard hit by the virus. According to sophomore member Morgan Buckey, several women in the sorority went to the health center last Monday to get treatment for their symptoms.
Gustin explained that the treatment prescribed at the health center for influenza is a medication called Tamiflu.
“Since this is a viral infection, (Tamiflu) can’t cure the flu,” Gustin said. “Tamiflu stops the replication of the virus but it can’t entirely take away the symptoms.”
Unfortunately, the sudden surge of flu cases at the health center has quickly depleted its stock of Tamiflu.
“We started with an inventory of 15 Tamiflu on Jan. 14,” Gustin said.
By the time Buckey and her friends arrived at the health center, late in the day Jan. 14, the entire inventory of Tamiflu had been distributed.
“They were very nice, but they gave me the prescription and they were all out of it,” Buckey said. “They told us that we could go to CVS or Kroger.”
Luckily, the women were able to borrow a resident adviser’s car to go fill the prescription uptown.
According to Gustin, the health center ran out of the medication for a couple reasons.
“We never know when flu season will hit,” Gustin said. “We do always get a three-week period where the flu hits us, but it’s sometimes as early as November or as late as March.”
This three-week period seemed to begin in conjunction with the start of classes Monday, Jan. 14, complicating what is traditionally an incredibly busy day.
Gustin also explained that it is not cost effective to maintain large stores of any one medication, especially expensive prescriptions such as Tamiflu.
“We typically do not keep a high inventory on expensive prescription items due to budgetary reasons until we know the need,” Gustin said. “The pharmacy makes orders daily to restock depending on the need. We receive our orders the following day.”
Although the health center ran out of Tamiflu on that particular day, they were able to refill their supply the next day. According to Gustin, she ordered more Tamiflu last week to try to keep ahead of demand as much as she can.
Gustin also suggested that students who are ill make an appointment with the health center before they come in for treatment.
“We can be prepared for them if they have appointment times so they don’t have to sit around and feel badly at the health center,” Gustin said.
She also suggested that it is not too late to get a flu shot from the health center.
“We still have flu vaccine available,” Gustin said. “It’s still appropriate to get the flu vaccine if you haven’t been exposed.”