H1N1 Flu Prevention
I hope your fall semester has gotten off to a wonderful start. The beautiful sunshine and cool nights are a reminder that the fall season is upon us. With the fall and winter months brings the annual flu season. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association are particularly focused on preventing the spread of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as the swine flu. This flu as with other types of flu spreads through coughing, sneezing and physical contact with contaminated surfaces.
Prevention is the key. Practice these behaviors now to avoid becoming sick:
- Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout campus - Use them!
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
- Residence Hall Students - clean shared surfaces in your room/suite such as sinks, shower and bathroom areas before and after use. A spray bottle of antibacterial cleaner or wipes can be used to quickly clean these areas daily.
- Refrain from sharing food or drink. Even if you and your friends appear healthy, you may unknowingly pass a flu virus to them or receive one in return.
- Use the hand sanitizer in the cafeteria before you pick up a tray, silver ware or food when you come in for a meal.
- Talk to your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated for seasonal flu and/or 2009 H1N1 flu. This is particularly important if you have a serious chronic health condition such as diabetes. Information about the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccination can be found at: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination. Information about seasonal flu vaccine can be found at: www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Student Health Services will be offering general flu vaccinations to students at cost.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the flu, community medical resources and the procedures Student Health Services will ask students to follow if they become ill with the flu:
What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1?
The symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and include:
- fever (100ºF/37.8ºC or higher)
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
What should I do if I think I have H1N1 flu?
Students who develop a fever of 100ºF/37.8ºC or higher and flu-like symptoms should contact Student Health Services as soon as possible after the onset of fever. Even if you are going to seek care from a private physician please notify Student Health Services that you have flu-like symptoms.
If you do not have a thermometer, Temp-a-dots are available at Student Health Services, and from the Director of Residence Life.
- Non-residential students, faculty, and staff with flu-like illness should self-isolate at home or at a friend's or family member's home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
- Residential students with flu-like illness who live relatively close to the campus should return to their homes to prevent making others sick. Please do so in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible by using private transportation instead of public transportation.
- If a student can't return home they should remain in their rooms and receive care and meals from a single person. Students should establish a "flu buddy scheme" in which students pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill. A friend or roommate can obtain a sick tray form from Student Health Services or Residence Life. This will allow a friend to obtain a takeout meal for their ill friend. Additionally, resident assistants will make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with each student who is in self-isolation.
- Residence Life has established a few quarantine spaces for residential students who cannot go home while they are ill. These spaces will be utilized as necessary to prevent the spread of the flu. If asked to temporarily relocate to a quarantine space, students will be expected to comply.
- If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student will be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Student Health Services has masks available. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets.
How is H1N1 Diagnosed?
A swab of the nose and throat is taken, placed in viral transport solution and sent to the laboratory for testing. It is best to take collection of the specimen within the first 4 to 5 days of illness (when an infected person is most contagious). However, some persons, especially children, may be contagious for 10 days or longer.
Student Health Services does not have the capability to test for influenza but can ascertain if a student's symptoms indicate they should be tested. Students will need to go to their family doctor or an area clinic to be tested. If a student is very ill and does not have transportation to a health care provider, the Cresson Area Ambulance will transport the student to an area hospital. The student will be responsible for payment of the ambulance service and the emergency room visit. The student should then arrange for a family member or a friend to bring them home after they are released from the emergency room. Out of state residence hall students who are not able to return home and need assistance returning to campus should contact the Director of Residence Life during the work week and should contact Security after business hours and on weekends.
Is there a vaccine available to protect against H1N1?
The H1N1 vaccine is currently in production and may be ready for the public later this fall. As always, Student Health Services will offer the seasonal influenza vaccine at cost. If the H1N1 vaccine becomes available to Student Health Services, the college community will be notified.
- Please visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ for up-to-date information on H1N1, including recommendations for prevention and treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns after reading this information, please contact Student Health Services at 886-6515. I hope you have a successful and healthy semester!
Dr. Jane M. Grassadonia
Vice President for Student Affairs Director
Mrs. Tama Rice
Student Health Services