Keeping our fingers crossed. Knocking on wood. Wishing for the best.
When it comes to H1N1, it won’t be those good luck hopes, but education and personal responsibility that will keep this flu strain at bay on campus.
“As a healthcare institution, we are hypersensitive when it comes to personal health. We’ve worked to remind our students, faculty, and staff through e-mails and posters to not only take precautions, but to take care of themselves when it comes to H1N1 or the normal seasonal flu,” said Dr. William G. Cunningham, dean of students. “To underline our seriousness and in a sign of the times, we’ve installed numerous hand sanitizers in key buildings throughout campus.”
Last May, when the talk of pending pandemic surfaced, the University assembled a broad-based team of faculty with expertise in epidemiology, and members from Student Affairs, the Student and Health Counseling Center (SHAC), Academic Affairs (particularly Public Health), facilities, HR, marketing, and security as a Pandemic Preparedness Team to put together a strategic response plan. The team is working under the ever-changing guidelines of the CDC and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Division of Disease Control (PDPHDDC.).
“As the liaison between the University and the city and state, I’m getting the latest information first hand and disseminating it quickly to the team,” said Ben Gollotti, chief security officer. “We are working closely with the PDPHDDC in preparation to administer it vaccine as soon as it becomes available for those individuals targeted to be at risk by the CDC. One of the benefits at University of the Sciences is that we have faculty trained to help administer the vaccine to the campus population which will speed up distribution and the time frame.”
Since the vaccine will not be available until October, the University is on guard for flu-like cases. The first sign may have come on Sept. 10, 2009, when SHAC notified the Pandemic Preparedness Team that a student was identified with a flu like-illness. While it was not confirmed to be a case of H1N1, the notification triggered a campus-wide e-mail to help raise awareness further. As part of the notification process, an Emergency Information Website at emergency.usp.edu has been created for disseminating information quickly.
“In addition to our faculty and staff efforts, we are also engaging our students to be proactive,” said Dr. Paul Furtaw, director of SHAC. “Students from our Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management program as well as Misher College will help construct an educational campaign. However, all of the education in the world is not going to help if people do not assume personal responsibility for taking steps to mitigate the virus.”
Whether you are a student, parent, a faculty or staff member, or the general public you can help to minimize the impact of all influenza during this flu season:
There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Eat right and get plenty of rest and exercise
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; preferably by coughing or sneezing into your sleeve or a single use disposable tissue
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Use alcohol-based hand cleaners
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the spread of germs
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people (six feet is considered a safe social distance)
- Those with flu-like illness (fever, cough, sneezing, chills, aches, sometimes diarrhea or vomiting) should stay away from classes/work and limit interactions with other people (called “self-isolation”), except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Some people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. They should stay away from others during this time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu
- Consider getting a flu shot and the H1N1 vaccination when it becomes available
What To Do If You Experience Influenza-like Illness
- STAY HOME or in your residence hall and limit interactions with other people (called “self-isolation”), except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. It is possible that people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. Students should stay away from others during this period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are at a high risk of severe illness from the flu due to chronic health conditions or an otherwise compromised immune response system, or if you experience difficulty breathing
- Students should call or go to the Student Health Services Office (SHAC) at 215-596-8980 for additional guidance
- Call your emergency contact person and let them know you are sick
- If possible arrange to go home
- Contact your primary healthcare provider and let them know that you are experiencing an influenza-like illness (fever, cough, sneezing, chills, aches, sometimes diarrhea or vomiting)
For additional information, the University of the Sciences Pandemic Preparedness Team recommends that you visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov, or the University’s Emergency Information Website at http://www.emergency.usp.edu.