The Story Behind The Stats: A First Hand Account Of H1N1 On Campus

Today’s Youth Advisory Board post comes from Bryan Spencer, one of our newest board members (look for more YAB updates next week!), Ypulse Insights intern and among the many unfortunate college students to fall victim to the H1N1 virus. With all of the recent Essentials items on youth-targeted flu campaigns and general news coverage on the epidemic, we thought we’d ask Bryan to share his first hand experience.

FYI Ypulse Insights also did some research on H1N1 awareness (in addition to youth television viewing & much more), which will be available in our NEW Ypulse Report (on sale next week) as well as in our abbreviated Ypulse Monitor product (also on sale next week), and found that awareness is running high. Eighty-four percent of teens and 93% of collegians told us they were aware of the H1N1 Virus or “swine flu” – having either read or heard something about it. For more of Ypulse Insights research on teens and collegians, check out the new Ypulse Research section of our site.

As always, you can communicate directly with any member of the Ypulse Youth Advisory Board by emailing them at youthadvisoryboard at…or just leave a comment below.

Story Behind The Stats: A First Hand Account Of H1N1 On Campus

kansascampus.h1n1.H1N1, Swine Flu,  whatever you want to call it, the virus is sweeping colleges nationwide, and some are starting to consider it a worse epidemic than Senioritis.  On campus, where very little is read outside of a text message, most awareness has spread through rumors and misconceptions about the highly contagious strand of influenza running rampant online and through classrooms and dormitories.

Like most rumors, they weren’t taken seriously until some truth came from them.  I personally didn’t know much about H1N1, and didn’t realize how serious it was in Lawrence, KS, until a friend of mine was infected.  He seemed fine, and then within 24 hours of the first sign of symptoms he was MIA.  I was only around him for about 5 minutes, and as a fairly hygienic person, figured I had little to worry about.  When I first got sniffles, I laughed about it and made jokes that I should avoid eating bacon for a few days, blaming it on a bad day of allergies.

But the joke was on me when I woke the next morning with a laundry-list of flu-like symptoms and even less desire than usual to get out of bed.  I went to the health center, where I found many of my peers in the same state of sickness as myself.  I realized, at age 20, I was no longer an invincible teenager and had succumbed to the dreaded H1N1 virus.  My initially nonchalant reaction turned into fear as I considered the amount of hospitalizations and deaths associated with it and, trust me, when you are feeling like death, the paranoia gets amplified.

I began to do some research and discovered the University of Kansas (my school) was featured on CNN with over 300 cases reported.  I was officially a statistic, and the latest rumor circulating was that the number may be as much as 10 times greater, as many cases go unreported.  Luckily I started feeling sick on a Thursday, so I spent the weekend resting. Unluckily it was the same weekend as the home-opener for football, so it was more of a challenge to stay in bed than one would imagine.  A few of my infected friends did not resist the temptation to tailgate and tried to apply some home remedies towards eliminating the virus.  These attempts, from my observations, were not successful.

The widespread chaos caused by the virus infected academic life as well.  Teachers were not prepared for the waves of absences which occurred; many of which were caused by a single student not willing to miss lecture and infecting everyone in the classroom.  The result was a large amount of confusion, and at least one student’s prediction that many GPAs will fall below average compared to past years due to the week-long recovery time needed to return to full strength.  At the University of Florida, another student Liz shared similar concerns, but says professors are slightly better prepared to deal with the academic-pandemic as classes are able to be watched online.

Although some students have seen print campaigns on campus regarding swine flu, most information they interpret only results in misunderstandings.  Many people who report flu-like symptoms do not believe they have H1N1 as they feel that swine is a very severe strand of the flu and milder symptoms indicate a different strand.  The biggest difference most notice is how contagious their sickness seems to be compared with past flu seasons.  After showing first symptoms, within 72 hours I had spread it to my 3 roommates, and quite a few friends.  It seems the only defense is luck, as even an exceptional immune system and extra doses of Vitamin C proved ineffective.

About Bryan
bryanBryan is a lost soul. Not in a bad way, as it keeps things interesting in life. When he is not studying Marketing at the University of Kansas, Bryan is busy maneuvering his recently started fraternity, mentoring high school student’s from his alma mater, and too often texting. While he tends to spread his talents to many fields, his forte may be in his ability to hold a conversation with just about anyone about the finer aspects of cuisine, both cooking and consuming. He does not hold quite as much writing experience as others on the board, having never taken an English class at the collegiate level. However, he still finds himself too opinionated to not express his thoughts on paper.

For more campus coverage, visit the Ypulse Campus Channel, sponsored by Campus Media Group.


  1. Kristen O

    I just had H1N1 a few weeks ago.

    One thing the media is failing to publicize is that one of the symptoms of H1N1 is that it feels like a very light version of the flu (like a hangover) on the first day, gets bad enough to prompt rest, the patient starts to feel better AND THEN they come down with the heavy duty flu symptoms, at which point, they’ve already infected other people because they didn’t think they were that sick.  This is the part that makes H1N1 so contagious.

  2. Ben Leis

    I love the point you made about why this has spread so quickly on college campuses: “Teachers were not prepared for the waves of absences which occurred; many of which were caused by a single student not willing to miss lecture and infecting everyone in the classroom.”

    Here is a link to see the nation wide coverage of h1n1 by the college media

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