From: Leslie Lawrence, M.D., Medical Director
Re: New Information on H1N1 Flu
I want to continue to keep the entire community informed about the H1N1 influenza and its prevention. The virus, also known as swine flu, is moving steadily into our part of the country. Several universities in the northeast are already reporting hundreds of cases. With our understanding of how the illness is moving, it is very likely that the virus will reach the Capital Region and Rensselaer in the near future.
Because we live in a close environment, it is exceptionally important that all of us do our best to protect ourselves and others from getting sick, and understand what we need to do in the event of illness. Please read all the following information carefully.
First, it is very important that we be able to contact all of our students as quickly as possible, particularly those who might be ill. This continues to be a challenge with our students who live off campus in private residences. I ask that all students who live off campus update their contact information with the Registrar as soon as
possible. A complete mailing address and phone number should be provided by emailing email@example.com or logging into http://sis.rpi.edu/ and entering your local address and phone number. Any off-campus student with flu-like symptoms should make an appointment with the Health Center and let us know that you live off campus. We want to continue to care for you.
The severity of H1N1, to date, has remained similar to that of the seasonal flu. This does not mean, however, that the illness should be taken lightly. The H1N1 virus tends to more greatly impact people under the age of 24, which puts a large portion of the campus community at a higher risk than we would generally face from a standard seasonal flu. In addition, certain groups are considered at greater risk of developing severe complications if they contract H1N1. Those high-risk groups include: those with respiratory disease (asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis), heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, morbid obesity, or compromised immune system, and pregnant women.
The most important thing that you can do now is to prevent yourself from getting sick. This includes reminding ourselves to adhere to the following practices:
- Wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands with others (hand disinfectants may be used if there is no access to soap and water);
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue;
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially after contact with others.
In addition, students can learn what they should have on hand in a personal "flu kit". We want everyone to take exceptionally good care of themselves this flu season.
Another critical part of prevention is for students, faculty, and staff to stay home and away from others should they develop flu-like symptoms (i.e., fever (100 degree F [37.8 degree C] or higher), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and rarely diarrhea and vomiting). People with these symptoms should not attend work or class for the entire period that the fever persists, and for 24 hours after the fever has stopped. Only after the 24 hours of no fever without the aid of fever reducers should someone return to class or work.
Students who have symptoms of the flu should set up an appointment with the Student Health Center at (518) 276-6287. An appointment with the health center is free for all Rensselaer students. All faculty and staff should consult their personal physician and not come into the office.
I will update you as additional information becomes available.
Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Rensselaer Student Health Center