|Student Health Services, other UND officials monitoring H1N1 Flu Virus|
University of North Dakota Student Health Services and other UND officials are in day-to-day contact with national, state and local health officials as the United States sees more cases of the H1N1 (Swine) Flu virus.
Overall, flu is “moderate,” says World Health Organization
The situation continues to evolve and the World Health Organization has upgraded the level to Phase 6, a pandemic level. But that change in status is because more countries have been impacted, not because the severity of the flu has increased, says Michelle Eslinger, director of UND’s Student Health Services. Here is what the World Health Organization says about severity on its web site:
At this time, WHO considers the overall severity of the influenza pandemic to be moderate. This assessment is based on scientific evidence available to WHO, as well as input from its Member States on the pandemic’s impact on their health systems, and their social and economic functioning.
The moderate assessment reflects that:
Most people recover from infection without the need for hospitalization or medical care.
Overall, national levels of severe illness from influenza A(H1N1) appear similar to levels seen during local seasonal influenza periods, although high levels of disease have occurred in some local areas and institutions.
Overall, hospitals and health care systems in most countries have been able to cope with the numbers of people seeking care, although some facilities and systems have been stressed in some localities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), H1N1 flu strain has symptoms in humans similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever, sore throat, cough, chills, headache and body aches. Health experts say young, healthy adults, such as the student population at UND, are at low risk for severe complications.
Students who experience flu symptoms such as sudden onset of fever above 100 degrees, cough or sore throat should contact — via telephone – Student Health Services for evaluation. Please instruct students to call 777-2605 to schedule an appointment and as always, utilize universal precautions when entering the clinic if they have a frequent and/or severe cough (face masks and hand sanitizer are available at both entrances). Faculty and staff should consult their personal physicians.
UND’s Student Health Services is a formal participant in the CDC surveillance program for identifying strains of influenza, and works in collaboration with local and federal health organizations in this regard on a routine basis.
Advice for Travelers
Regarding the risk of being infected by an influenza virus, travelers are advised, whenever possible, to avoid crowded enclosed spaces and close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections. Hand-washing after direct contact with ill persons or their environment may reduce the risk of illness. Ill persons should be encouraged to practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, wash hands).
Check out information at the CDC website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/content/novel-h1n1-flu.aspx#generalinfo
Follow Disease Prevention Practices
This is a good time to emphasize basic disease preventions, which include:
• Ill students, faculty and staff should stay home while ill
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away
• Wash hands or use a hand sanitizer after using a tissue
• Wash hands frequently during the day
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• Avoid close contact with people who are ill or appear ill
What Can Employees Do to Reduce the Spread of H1N1 Flu in the Workplace?
From the CDC web site:
Stay home if you are sick. If you have symptoms of influenza-like illness, stay home for 7 days after symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Following these recommendations will help keep you from infecting others and spreading the virus.
Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with pandemic H1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, notify their supervisor and stay home if they become ill. Employees who have an underlying medical condition or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice, because they might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs to prevent illness. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact with sick people. If an employee suspects that they have been exposed to a sick person with pandemic H1N1 influenza, he or she may continue to go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day and should notify their supervisor and stay home if they become ill.
Employees are also encouraged to help maintain a healthy work environment by periodically wiping down with a disinfectant or disinfectant wipes any public surfaces - counters, telephones, etc. - which regularly come in contact with the general public.
Those who would like to visit with a counselor about the H1N1 flu epidemic may wish to visit UND’s Employee Assistance Program site at http://www.humanresources.und.edu/html/Employee Assistant Program.htm. You can find “Managing Your Anxiety about H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)” at http://apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=194.
-- Peter Johnson, Executive Associate Vice President for University Relations, 777-4317, firstname.lastname@example.org