NEWSROOM

Information and guidance on the H1N1 flu virus


Update (12/03/09): H1N1 vaccine will be availble for all TU students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. in Burdick Hall. Read the TU Newsroom announcement for more information.

Given the widespread prevalence of H1N1 flu in the U.S. and Maryland, it is important for all members of the campus community to remain vigilant and take prompt action to reduce its spread in the university community. The following guidelines have been established for the prevention and treatment of the virus.

Prevention

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is the most effective method of preventing the flu. We recommend that all individuals get both a seasonal flu shot this fall and an H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. This will not only protect the individual vaccinated, but reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to colleagues, family members and others in your community. Traditional college and university-age students fall into the priority group for H1N1 vaccine along with the usual high risk groups, such as pregnant women, individuals over the age of 65, caretakers of infants less than 6 months of age, those with chronic medical conditions or those who are immunocompromised because of immunosuppressant drugs or HIV infection.

Seasonal flu vaccine clinics will be held on campus early this fall. H1N1 flu clinics will be scheduled later this fall when vaccine supplies become available. Watch the Daily Digest and the university Web site for the specific dates and times of flu clinics as they are scheduled.

Precautionary measures

It is essential for individuals to take personal responsibility in helping to decrease the spread of illness. As with any other seasonal flu, exercise precautionary measures to avoid becoming ill or spreading the illness to others:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and wash your hands after disposing of the tissue. Use your elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available.
  • Wash your hands after shaking hands or touching possibly contaminated surfaces.
  • People living together should frequently clean commonly-used surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls and countertops.
  • Avoid sharing drinks and food with others.
  • Monitor your health by checking for fever, especially if you have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance or are sweating.

 

What to do if you develop flu-like symptoms

  • Based upon CDC recommendations we ask that individuals who have flu-like symptoms (a fever >100ºF and cough or sore throat) stay home from work or school until you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or are sweating), for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (anything that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). 
  • Inform your professors and/or supervisor of your illness, and unless necessary for medical care, stay home and minimize contact with others. This includes avoiding work, school and travel by public transportation.
  • Current experience indicates that most individuals suffering from H1N1 flu will recover without needing medical care.
  • If you find it necessary to seek medical care or simply need medical advice, you may contact the Dowell Health Center (students only) or your own health care provider. When going outside to seek medical care, wear a facemask (available in residence hall community centers) whenever possible and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.  Be sure to seek emergency medical care if you develop any of the warning signs of severe illness:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • Sudden dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Severe or persistent vomiting
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • In order to avoid overwhelming the Dowell Health Center with patients at a time when they need to focus on assisting severely ill students, we ask that students avoid going to the Health Center to seek a medical excuse for a short-term illness. In accordance with University Policy, the Health Center does not provide medical excuses for short-term illnesses. Faculty have been made aware of the necessity of isolation for individuals with H1N1 flu.

Notifying professors about your illness

Students should inform their professors of their illness as soon as possible. Such absences will be considered excused absences; however, students are responsible for the material covered during the period of their absence. Upon recovery, they should contact professors to obtain necessary coursework missed during their absence.

 

Students living on campus who develop flu-like illness

Students living on campus should go home via private transportation and remain out of classes for the duration of their illness. If a student cannot go home, they are instructed to call the Community Center Desk to inform the residence hall staff of their illness, and follow subsequent instructions. Disposable thermometers and masks are available at residence hall community centers to aid in monitoring and preventing the spread of illness.

Roommates, suitemates and family members of the ill

Individuals who have been in contact with someone who has the flu should use common hygiene measures (frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.) and watch for symptoms, which usually occur within 72 hours of exposure. If symptoms arise, use the same self-care measures to get well and reduce the risk of transmission to others. Individuals with severe symptoms, serious chronic conditions or those who are immunosuppressed are strongly recommended to contact their health care provider or the Dowell Health Center. This is not necessary for most healthy individuals.

What to do if a student or employee appears sick with flu-like symptoms

Individuals with flu-like symptoms are asked to stay home from work until they have been fever-free and/or have not displayed the symptoms of fever for 24 hours without the aid of a fever-reducing medicine. Students and employees who are displaying flu-like symptoms in class or in the workplace should be reminded of this request and, if necessary, asked to leave.


Frequently Asked Questions

 

How can I prepare for the H1N1 flu?

In addition to receiving the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu vaccines, students should work with their parents to develop a plan for returning home in case of illness. In addition, we recommend that all members of the campus community maintain a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food items to use in case they become ill and need to isolate themselves.

 

What is Towson University doing to prepare for the H1N1 flu?

Towson University continues to follow the basic strategies laid out in its H1N1 Action Plan. We continue to monitor flu activity, communicate information with the campus community, and take necessary precautions to limit the spread of illness on campus. We have placed hand sanitizers in campus common areas and posted information on hand washing, cough covering and other preventive measures in high visibility areas across campus. The university’s housekeeping staff has increased its vigilance and is complying with all CDC flu sanitation recommendations. We will continue to monitor and follow all CDC recommendations and precautionary measures.

 

How should faculty/staff respond to the virus in their classroom/workplace?

In an effort to continuously monitor and update the campus community on the H1N1 flu situation, we have requested that faculty and staff respect the necessity of absences caused by the H1N1 flu. Faculty and staff will also be asked to report absenteeism in their classes and administrative departments. Instructions about reporting absences will be distributed through each division. The Emergency Preparedness Committee will monitor absenteeism trends and use them as a basis for future decision making.

 

How can I tell if I have the flu or just a common cold?

As indicated on the CDC Web site, the flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms. In general, flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold, and often include high fever, body aches and/or headaches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough. Individuals with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, scratchy or mildly sore throat, and little or no fever.

 

How long can the H1N1 virus live on surfaces?

The H1N1 flu is fragile and cannot survive long on environmental surfaces—the virus is primarily spread through human contact. Therefore, you can reduce viral transmission by avoiding shaking hands, frequently washing hands or using hand sanitizers, and sneezing or coughing into your arm or a tissue. Additional hand sanitizers have been placed in campus common areas, and TU housekeeping staff are heeding the cleaning and sanitation advice of the CDC.

 

Where can I get more information about the H1N1 virus?

For additional details on the H1N1 flu virus nationwide, visit the CDC's H1N1 Web site. For questions about the situation in Maryland, go to the Web site for Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, http://www.dhmh.state.md.us/, or call 1-877-MDFLU4U (633-5848), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.  The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also accept flu questions by e-mail at swineflu@dhmh.state.md.us.

 

What are the Dowell Health Center’s hours?

The Health Center is open Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our Nurse Advice Line is available after hours, 24/7 by calling 410-704-2466.

 

What should I do if I’m experiencing anxiety about getting sick?

If you are experiencing anxiety about the H1N1 outbreak, contact the Counseling Center at 410-704-2512 or go to the American Psychological Association Web site for tips on managing your stress.                    

 



 

 

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