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The H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Outbreak
June 29, 2009: To Rensselaer Commencement Participants and Guests

To: Rensselaer Commencement Participants and Guests
From: Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Rensselaer Student Health Center
Date: June 29, 2009

Re: Influenza Update

The Student Health Center has been notified that a recent visitor to the campus has a confirmed case of H1N1 virus (swine flu). The timing of that visit and diagnosis means that members of the Rensselaer community may have been exposed to the illness.

The members of the campus community and campus visitors who we believe were directly exposed to this individual are being contacted directly with additional instructions to closely monitor their health.

What follows are some the most important things for every member of our community to know.

Could I have H1N1?

You should be checked IMMEDIATELY by a physician for the virus if you have a fever of 100.0 F or higher along with symptoms of influenza-like illness (fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting).

What do I do if I meet these criteria?

Students who meet the above criteria should:

1. Call the Student Health Center immediately; and

2. Minimize their contact with others, including roommates and classmates as much as possible prior to their appointment.

Faculty or staff who meet the above criteria should:

1. Make an appointment with their Primary Care Physician;

2. Not come into the office or onto the Rensselaer campus until their doctor determines that they are not carrying the virus;

3. Minimize their contact with others as much as possible prior to their appointment;

4. Notify the Student Health Center of a suspected case of the virus; and

5. Notify their supervisor or dean of a suspected case of the virus.

How can I protect myself and others from getting H1N1?

Influenza viruses are spread from person to person in the respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands. To prevent the spread of influenza viruses, including swine flu, follow these healthy habits:

  • 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 cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

In addition, if you are in close contact with a potentially, or known, infected person:

  • Remind the sick person to cover their coughs, and clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after coughing and/or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Use paper towels for drying hands after hand washing.
  • Have the sick person wear a surgical mask if they need to be in a common area of the house near other persons.
  • Follow the “yard stick rule” — remain 3 feet or more from the ill person.
For further information see: www.cdc.gov and www.health.state.ny.us. Further updates will be issued as information becomes available.

Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Rensselaer Student Health Center

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