Across the nation, colleges and universities are preparing for the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak on campus, and a team at The University of Toledo is among those finalizing plans.
According to a memorandum distributed last week to students, parents, faculty and staff by Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, Health Science Campus provost, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, and Dr. Rosemary Haggett, Main Campus provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, UT’s plans involve scenarios involving the H1N1 flu virus (also known as swine flu) and the conventional influenza virus (also known as seasonal flu).
“Novel H1N1 pandemic flu is widespread throughout the world,” noted the provosts. “While this disease can be serious, fortunately, the vast majority of cases thus far have been mild and similar in most instances to typical seasonal flu.
“Cases of novel H1N1 already have appeared on many college campuses, and given the nature of a university environment, we expect to see cases this fall and strongly encourage all members of the UT community to take the standard precautions adopted during the regular flu season and to play an active role in all of our public health prevention efforts,” the provosts wrote in the memo.
The campus-wide effort includes personnel from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Infection Control and University/Student Health, Safety and Health, Public Health and the campus clinics, with general guidance provided to universities by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and specific input from the local health department.
The group’s recommendations follow those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and include precautions to help prevent the spread of disease. They are:
• Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands with soap and water multiple times each day and always after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based cleaners such as Purel also are effective.
• Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, as the main way flu spreads from person to person is by droplets from coughs or sneezes. If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder as opposed to hands. Throw used tissues in the trash.
• Do not share food, drink or utensils. Doorknobs, stair rails, and other common area surfaces should be avoided whenever possible.
• Stay home or in your off-campus or residence hall room if you are sick; the advice is to isolate yourself from others until it’s been 24 hours since you last had any fever.
Members of the UT community are urged to take advantage of both seasonal and novel H1N1 immunizations (flu shots) when they become available later this fall.
A Web site has been established to communicate information in a detailed fashion as the situation unfolds. The latest updates can be found at utoledo.edu/fluprep.