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H1N1 Flu Alert (September 3, 2009)

Student Health Services

H1N1 Influenza Frequently Asked Questions For Students

The University has reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Institutions of Higher Education regarding H1N1 influenza. The following recommendations, in question-and-answer format, are based on these guidelines and our available campus resources.

Q: How do I keep from getting sick? 
A:  Although H1N1 flu has proven to be relatively mild and overall has been responsive to anti-viral medications, the CDC recommends that everyone take the following actions to stay healthy:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve 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 sanitizers can be used if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get flu shots for both seasonal influenza and H1N1 when the vaccine becomes available.

Q: What do I do if I develop flu-like symptoms, which include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea?
A:
  You should avoid school, work, and socializing. The CDC suggests self-isolation - returning home if possible or remaining in your room until 24 hours after your fever resolves without the use of fever-reducing medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Self-isolation also means limiting contact with others and not visiting the dining hall. Contact your instructors to notify them you are not feeling well and receive instructions about how to make up any coursework and receive classroom materials.

Q:  If I develop flu-like symptoms, what should I do if I live in on-campus housing or in an off-campus communal living environment like a fraternity or sorority?
A:
  If you share a bedroom with another person your best option is to return to your home or stay at the house of a friend or family member. You should travel by private car rather than public transportation.

If you are in a private room, you should remain in your room as much as possible, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, or wear a surgical mask whenever you are in shared spaces.

If you are ill and unable to return home, we recommend that you speak with your roommate. It is important to note that you are contagious about 24 hours before you become ill; however, if your roommate is concerned, you should maintain a physical distance, properly dispose of tissues you use, and disinfect high-touch surfaces with sanitizing wipes such as Lysol or Clorox. Your roommate also has a variety of options including maintaining a physical distance while in the room, taking proactive hygiene precautions (such as frequent hand cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces), or temporarily moving in with friends during the period of self-isolation. This will most likely be a period of 3-5 days. You may also wear a surgical mask.

If you are ill and continue to live with your roommate(s) in the same space, you should always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve and discard the tissue in the trash can, frequently clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and frequently decontaminate things touched in the room or in shared spaces like bathrooms.

In general, ill students should limit their contact with others and, to the extent possible, maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from people with whom they share living space.  Shared bathrooms should be avoided or be cleaned frequently. If close contact cannot be avoided, the ill student should wear a surgical mask during the period of self-isolation.

If you have a medical condition that predisposes you to a higher risk of complications for both seasonal influenza and H1N1, consult with Campus Health Services (call 252-335-3267) or your personal health-care provider. These conditions include pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, certain chronic lung, heart, and kidney conditions, as well as any medical condition that leads to a suppressed immune system.

Q:  How do I clean my room and other areas?
A:
The virus does not live on environmental surfaces for extended periods and is easily killed by normal household disinfectants like Lysol or Clorox wipes. To best protect yourself and your roommate(s), you should establish regular schedules for frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces (for example, bathrooms, doorknobs, and tables).

Q:  When should I seek medical attention?
A:  The strain of H1N1 circulating in the spring and summer of 2009 generally resulted in a mild to moderate illness. As long as the disease does not increase in severity, it is likely that the majority of individuals who contract the virus will not need to seek medical attention but can self-isolate and use over-the-counter medications for symptom relief. Over the counter medications for symptom relief can be obtained from Student Health Services located in the Cardwell Hoffler Infirmary Building.  

Students with a flu-like illness should promptly seek medical attention if they have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness from flu, are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing. They should contact Student Health Services (call 252/335-3267) or a health-care provider of their choice.

Q:  What should I do if I think I have a high-risk condition?
A:  People who are at high risk for flu complications and become ill with a flu-like illness should speak with their health-care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

Groups that are at higher risk of complications from flu if they get sick include: children younger than age 5; people age 65 or older; children and adolescents (younger than age 18) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after flu virus infection; pregnant women; adults and children who have asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes; and adults and children with immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV).  People age 65 and older, however, appear to be at lower risk of H1N1 infection compared with younger people. But if older adults do get sick from the flu, they are at increased risk of having a severe illness.

Q: How will I get food if I cannot visit the dining hall?
A: Student Health Services will assist students, who are isolated with making arrangements to have meals delivered to their residential hall. 

Q: What supplies are recommended in the event I become ill?
A: Students are urged to prepare in advance for the possibility of becoming ill. Some of the recommended supplies you will need if you are required to be isolated include:

  • Microwavable soup (if you have a microwave);
  • Sports drinks;
  • Water;
  • Non-perishable lunch packs;
  • Crackers;
  • Fruit and/or applesauce; and
  • Peanut butter or other non-perishable items.

Other items you may wish to obtain in advance include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil);
  • Thermometer;
  • Hand sanitizer;
  • Clorox or similar disinfectant wipes;
  • Surgical mask; and
  • Tissues.

Q:  For additional information about H1N1 on college campuses?
A: The following links will provide the most updated information about H1N1:

http://www.flu.gov/
http://www.cdc.gov

Last Updated ( September 03, 2009 )

Resource: http://campushealth.unc.edu.
http://www.flu.gov/