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New York State
Swine Flu Hotline:

1-800-808-1987

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The H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Outbreak
October 1, 2009: To the Rensselaer Community
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From: Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Medical Director, Student Health Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Re: H1N1 Update

As of October 1, we have experienced seven cases of influenza among our students. Five of those students are fully recovered, and two are recuperating at home with their families.

The number of affected students has remained very low, and I know this is in large part due to all of your efforts to protect yourselves from getting sick. Please keep up the exceptionally good work as the number of cases in our area and on campus continues to increase. Prevention remains the most important way of protecting our community.

We have received some questions regarding our approach to isolating students who cannot go home while they recover from the H1N1 virus. I would like to reassure you that living in close proximity to H1N1 isolation rooms does not pose a significant risk of contracting the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends, among its best practices for colleges and universities experiencing H1N1 outbreaks, isolating ill individuals in a dormitory setting. You may wish to see the full context for this recommendation by visiting the CDC Website at http://www.flu.gov/professional/school/higheredguidance.html. These rooms and related procedures are the best way to protect roommates and dorm mates. They also allow us to keep close watch and take care of each ill student individually.

All isolation rooms are clearly marked on the outside door. No visitors are allowed into those rooms, other than the official care staff at Rensselaer. Each student who is diagnosed with influenza may come out of the isolation room only to go to a kitchenette across the hall, and must always wear a mask and gloves when making this trip.

Please look for our seasonal flu vaccine schedule in this week’s Poly. Currently, we are offering only seasonal flu vaccines to students. Remember that this vaccine protects against seasonal flu and not H1N1. The H1N1 vaccine is still scheduled to arrive in early to mid-October.

As always, your best protections against the flu include:

  • Washing your hands often, especially after shaking hands with others (hand disinfectants may be used if there is no access to soap and water);
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
  • Covering your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue;
  • Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially after contact with others; and
  • Keeping a three-foot [one-meter] distance between yourself and anyone who is ill.

Please take care.

Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Medical Director, Student Health Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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