Colleges Prep for Swine Flu in Wake of Third Student Death

Mascot to Educate Students About Swine Flu

Next week, Syracuse University's mascot, Otto the Orange, will deliver a series of public service announcements about the swine flu, said Carol K. Masiclat, associate director of communications for student affairs at SU. The mascot will appear in campus e-mails, on posters and in placards in SU dining halls, imploring students to wash their hands, visit the health center when sick, and use disinfectant on tabletops.

"Some people will get through the flu season, but others won't be as lucky," she said. "And they need to know what to do when they get sick."

So far, SU has only seen about a dozen people at its health center reporting flu-like illnesses said Kathleen VanVechten, an SU health center official. Of the 12 people who visited the health center, only a few have tested positive for Type A flu, which would most likely be H1N1.

SU Health Director James Jacobs said it's hard to explain why some campuses have seen thousands of cases of swine flu while others, like Syracuse, have seen only a handful.

"When it comes to a campus like ours, where right now we're experiencing very low levels of flu-like illnesses, is that good luck or is that because of good planning?" Jacobs said. "I can't answer that question."

Swine Flu Deaths Rare

Jacobs emphasized that, for the most part, swine flu is comparable to the seasonal flu. He said the main difference is that people have not developed immunity to H1N1.

"On a worldwide population basis, this virus doesn't seem to be very dangerous," Jacobs said. "In fact, it seems to be less dangerous than seasonal influenza, which, we always have to keep reminding ourselves, in the United States results in about 36,000 deaths per year."

While it's very rare for the H1N1 virus to lead to death, some people do experience complications, said Dr. John Treanor, a professor of medicine in the infectious diseases unit of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"It's a virus that grows in the respiratory tract," Treanor said. "And as it grows, it causes inflammation, which is manifested as a clinical symptom of pneumonia. Pneumonia is a disease that interferes with breathing, so some people die because of breathing problems."

With both the seasonal flu and swine flu, patients can develop symptoms of pneumonia. For patients with preexisting medical conditions, such as heart and lung disease or other chronic lung conditions like asthma, pneumonia can lead to severe breathing problems and even be fatal, he said.

Facebook Pages Honor Schor

It's unclear whether Schor, 20, had any preexisting medical conditions leading up to his death. On Friday, Cornell President David Skorton released a statement saying Schor had died due to complications related to H1N1 influenza, but university officials declined to elaborate, citing medical privacy concerns.

Schor's friends and family have created two Facebook pages to honor his life. As of this morning, 550 people had joined the two groups.

Friends, teachers and family members have been using the space on Facebook to send their condolences and pay respects to Schor's life.

"Warren was a loving, funny, smart guy and an incredible friend who never failed to put a smile on my face," Rachel Gottesman wrote on the wall of one of the Facebook groups. Schor and Gottesman both attended the Hackley School, a private college preparatory school in Tarrytown, N.Y.

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