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Dr. Allan Markus honored for flu planning efforts


October 25, 2009

Celebrating the flu isn’t something one would normally do, but Dr. Allan Markus was thanked recently for his contribution to pandemic flu planning with an autographed basketball. 

Assistant basketball coach Lamont Smith presented the ball to Markus during a compliance safety officer breakfast sponsored by the Environmental Health and Safety department at ASU. It was signed by coaches Herb Sendek and Charlie Turner-Thorne and members of the ASU Sun Devil Men and Women’s Teams. 

Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, thanked Markus, Campus Health Services director, for his efforts in preparing the university for a pandemic flu outbreak as co-chair of the Pandemic Flu Executive Committee.

“Allan has been absolutely instrumental in helping to lead this effort along with Leon Igras,” Olsen said. Issues that have been addressed include stockpiling supplies such as Tamiflu, masks and gloves as well as ordering H1N1 virus vaccine and creating detailed plans for the different stages of a pandemic that comprehensively address university operations.  

Markus said that the committee has been working since 2006 to create plans and address issues to deal with a pandemic at ASU where approximately 69,000 students attend classes and 12,000 faculty and staff teach and work.

“Most of you know it’s no longer a possibility, we’re in the middle of it,” Markus said. “It really has taken a village to get to this level of preparedness and I want to thank all of the members of our Pandemic Executive Committee who have helped prepare ASU.”  

ASU has seen a slight uptick in the number of flu cases throughout the university, but there are steps that students, faculty and staff can take to protect themselves:

• Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not your hand, to limit the spread of viruses.

• Wash hands with a 60-percent alcohol-based hand cleaner. Place hand cleaners in high-traffic areas for easy access.

• About 20 percent of people who are within six feet of a person sick with the H1N1 may become ill themselves if the affected person coughs into the air and thereby spreads droplets of flu virus.

• If you’re sick, stay home until you are fever free for at least 24 hours. Residential life students who are ill may work with their community assistants to have meals delivered. Let professors know that you are sick and work with them to figure out a plan to complete coursework.

• Pick up a cold and flu kit from ASU Health Services locations or at residential hall C-stores. Cost for the kit that contains basic medications, a thermometer, pan flu pocket guide and instructions for using the medicines is $10.

• Get a H1N1 vaccine when it arrives, especially since young adults are in a high-risk group. ASU has received 50 dose of vaccine and is awaiting the rest of its order. Vaccine information will be posted at www.asu.edu/pandemic and students.asu.edu/health when it becomes widely available.

• Consider signing up for CarePass to receive health-care information about H1N1 such as when vaccine is available through text messages, emails, phone calls or faxes depending on user preference at http://www.carepass.com.

The new H1N1 vaccine has been found to be safe in testing with similar side effects to the regular seasonal flu vaccine, Markus said. First shipments of H1N1 vaccine are in the form of FluMist, a live attenuated vaccine.

College students are in a high-risk group for the flu since they have not been exposed to the viruses that make up the new strain. Those at high-risk also include pregnant women, infants, young children, health-care workers and patients with chronic heart and lung disease.

Although H1N1 flu cases are likely to rise and may lead to increased absenteeism at the university, Markus stresses that the flu is “no more deadly than the seasonal flu for the most part.”  

“It appears that we’re just going into the beginning of our second peak period now,” Markus says.