Illini trying to avoid H1N1 flu
It’s not as bad as pneumonia, said Illinois freshman forward Tyler Griffey, but the flu strain working its way through the country and college locker rooms packs a punch.
Griffey should know. He twice contracted pneumonia during his Lafayette High School career in suburban St. Louis. Earlier this month, he needed more than a week to get over the flu symptoms.
“I was in bed and on a couch for 48 hours without moving,’’ Griffey said. “(When he returned), it’s like my conditioning was completely gone. I had headaches every time I’d run up and down the court.’’
With basketball season getting under way, Illinois coach Bruce Weber and the medical staff took precautions to avoid an outbreak within the program, like those at Tulane (football/volleyball), Duke (football) and Florida (football). Physicians already administered shots for seasonal flu and H1N1 to the Illini, and the Illini training staff will isolate any player with flu symptoms.
A hectic schedule, strenuous workouts and perhaps not enough sleep may leave the Illini susceptible to the flu. Illinois (3-0) hosts Wofford (2-1) Tuesday (8:45 p.m., ESPNU). Like other coaches, Weber is concerned that the flu bug could change the course of the season.
“If you get it at the wrong time, it could be a problem,’’ Weber said.
Two waves of flu swept through campus already, Weber said. Illinois junior center Rich Semrau had the flu in September.
“Campus seemed to get a big outbreak right when the fall semester started,’’ Weber said. “That’s when Semrau got it. My daughter got it. Then there was a little outbreak a couple weeks ago. Semrau had it early.
“It’s a factor. It set Tyler back. He missed four days. He came back and still didn’t feel good. It was 10 days before he really felt good. It takes a while.’’
Back at full strength, Griffey had nine points and nine rebounds in the 94-48 win over Presbyterian on Saturday after struggling through the exhibition games while not reporting the symptoms.
Now the plan is to effectively quarantine anyone with the symptoms, said team trainer Al Martindale. The H1N1 flu strain has a higher fever than the seasonal flu, but there’s little reason to test it. The treatment is roughly the same.
“Once you identify what it is, get them out and isolate them for two or three days,’’ Martindale said. “We’ll check on them and treat them, and then we’ll let them come back.’’
Illinois hopes to vaccinate all athletes before the end of the fall semester.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.