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Efforts in Place to Respond to H1N1

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
September 2, 2009

UNH Calendar

Flu season is still a few months away but it’s not too early to start taking precautions, especially with the H1N1 virus already showing up on some college campuses around the country. UNH health and emergency management officials have amped up preparedness efforts just in case.
 
The university’s emergency response team has had plans in place for many years to deal with health issues on campus. UNH has a flu plan, and both health officials and emergency management staff are closely monitoring the status of the flu. The university is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
 
But day-to-day, it all comes down to standard flu-prevention procedures.
 
“Prevention is the best way to protect ourselves and decrease the spread of the flu,” says Kathleen Grace-Bishop, director of education and promotion at Health Services.
 
That means wash, wash, wash your hands. All the time. When you can’t wash, use a hand sanitizer. Sneeze or cough into the bend in your elbow or a tissue and throw that tissue away.  Avoid people who are sick, and don’t share food, drinks or eating utensils.  Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing first.
 
According to the CDC, most cases of H1N1 have been mild. However, this flu is more contagious than traditional flu strains.
 
Common symptoms of the H1N1 flu can include fever, sore throat, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue. Less common are the cough, vomiting and diarrhea that often accompany the seasonal flu.
 
“In most cases we are not going to know for sure if the symptoms are due to the H1N1 virus or some other virus because the CDC and state of NH are not recommending that everyone be tested,” Grace-Bishop says.

That’s because the majority of people infected easily recover and treatment is based on symptoms.  So, in general, knowing which virus is the cause is not important clinically.
 
“In most cases, health care providers will be using the term ‘influenza-like illness’ to describe what they see since they won’t be identifying the actual virus,” Grace-Bishop says. “If we see a significant outbreak, we may test a few patients, under the guidance of the state, just to see if H1N1 is likely what we are seeing.”
 
Faculty, staff and students who get the flu should stay home for 24 hours after they are fever-free without temperature-lowering medication.
 
Seasonal flu shots and a vaccine against the H1N1 will be available sometime this fall. Students are encouraged to consider getting the seasonal flu vaccine.  The CDC recommends that pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, all people from 6 months through 24 years of age, and persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza all get the H1N1 vaccine.

As yet, Health Services doesn’t know when it will receive the H1N1 vaccine or how much it will get.

A letter to the UNH community from Health Services and Paul Dean, UNH’s deputy chief of police and director of emergency management, suggests any student who gets the flu should go home if they live within 250 miles of campus. To read the letter, go to:
www.unh.edu/health-services/news/pdf/20090821_h1n1-letter0826.pdf

A list of precautions can be found at:
www.unh.edu/health-services/news/pdf/20090821_preventing-flu.pdf



 


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