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New York State
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1-800-808-1987

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The H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Outbreak
October 14, 2009: To the Rensselaer Community
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From: Leslie Lawrence, M.D.
Medical Director, Student Health Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

H1N1 Update

As of October 13, we have experienced 64 cases of influenza among students on the Troy campus. Some 47 students have active cases of the illness. Of those, 16 are in isolation rooms and 31 are recuperating at home with their families. The remaining 17 students are fully recovered. In addition, several faculty and staff members have reported influenza-like illnesses.

We have been expecting an increase in the number and rate of cases, based on our knowledge of the illness, and we have reached the point where the five exam rooms in the Student Health Center are not able to handle the larger number of students seeking treatment. We therefore are moving forward to open a planned Auxiliary Health Center in the auditorium of Academy Hall. The larger auditorium is on the third floor of the building right across from the Health Center. This will help us to quickly diagnose and treat ill students. All classes and events previously scheduled in the Academy Hall auditorium are in the process of being relocated. Rensselaer Union staff are reaching out to faculty and event coordinators impacted directly to provide details on the change.

There has been much conversation around the Capital Region about the number of cases of flu on college campuses. The illness is very widespread in the region, and tracking of cases varies widely among universities. At Rensselaer, we will continue to closely track our number of cases and to share this information and facts on how to prevent the illness with the community. We feel this sharing of the facts is the best way members of our community can continue to protect themselves from becoming ill. In addition, we will continue to encourage ill students to come to our Student Health Center for personal care and remain at home or in an isolation residence room for care as they recover.

We have no new information on the H1N1 vaccine, but still we expect it within one week, based on previous conversations.

This vaccine was made exactly the same way the seasonal influenza vaccine has been made for more than 30 years, so we expect it to be as effective, and with as few side effects, as the seasonal flu vaccine. There have been several large studies completed on the H1N1 vaccine and to date, and as we anticipated, there have been no significant side effects.

Students should continue to contact the Student Health Center if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. 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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