One of the most frightening rumors about the H1N1 flu virus is that it attacks the healthy, robust immune systems of young adults. It focuses in on the confident heartbeats and deep lungs of the young and ignores the vulnerable bodies of the aged, infirm and infantile. While this is not exactly how this virus operates, it does seem to have affected our healthiest students.
The Blue’s coach, Kristine Drakich, said that five members were “seriously affected with fevers, coughs, sore throats, headaches and chills, which is consistent with H1N1 Influenza, and two remain quite ill.”
The fear of flu pandemic has flustered the U of T administration all summer and into the fall term. Anti-bacterial gels are available through every doorway on campus and policies are in place in case of mass absenteeism.
Policies notwithstanding, missing a week of classes will put any student behind on her books. Coach Drakich explains: “They are missing classes and assignments as well as games and practices; and they will be behind in both areas when they have recovered. It has been, and still is, very stressful for those who are ill.”
It has been little over two weeks since 13 year-old Evan Frustaglio died suddenly of H1N1 during a hockey tournament. The press coverage of his death caused a panic amongst hockey parents and a scramble for vaccinations all across the GTA. Athletes province-wide are on high alert.
The Queen’s Journal reported recently of an uproar following a men’s hockey game when the Queen’s players refused to shake hands with their competitors for fear of contracting the virus.
Student athletic organizations have policies in place to prevent or deal with an influenza outbreak. Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) H1N1 policy encourages coaches and athletes to avoid drinking from the water bottles of other players, to remove towels from benches during games, to get vaccinated, not train too vigorously, and to report all illnesses.