Special message to students regarding H1N1 flu
As Elon prepares for the opening of the 2009-10 academic year, students are asked to read this message in preparation for a potential outbreak of the H1N1 flu on campus.
As you prepare to arrive on campus for the upcoming academic year, I want to share with you important information about the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as “swine flu.” Illness with this new virus has ranged from mild to severe. While most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from infection with this virus have occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend households (and students) have supplies on hand to participate in their own care. Items you should have readily available in your living space, whether on or off campus include:
- Fever reducers
- Cold/flu medications
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant wipes
Many of these items are available for purchase in the Campus Shop, the Fountain Place Market in The Colonnades, and Health Services. These supplies are also available at local pharmacies, grocery stores and discount stores.
It is also important that we have current emergency contact and address information on every student so we can contact the proper persons if needed in the event of an emergency. You should update their emergency contact information as soon as possible. You can update their contact information by logging in to On Track and following the link under "Communications" and "Update Contact Information." Likewise, we encourage all students to take advantage of our E-Alert emergency text messaging system which is used to notify students of emergencies; students may register for E-Alert by visiting http://org.elon.edu/e-alert/
A crucial first step in reducing the spread of the flu (whether seasonal or the H1NI strain) is to help students understand ways to reduce their risk of getting the flu. The Office of Student Development will conduct an awareness campaign this fall to better educate students, faculty and staff on personal prevention measures, including proper hand washing techniques and effective cough/sneeze etiquette. In the meantime, we ask that you follow these recommendations outlined by the CDC:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly (20 seconds or more) with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner* <http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm#antibacterial> when soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If a tissue is unavailable, cough or sneeze into your bent elbow to reduce spray and to avoid hand contamination.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Students who are sick with an influenza-like illness (ILI) (fever of 100.4 or above plus at least cough or sore throat and possibly other symptoms like runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea) should consult with their medical provider, Health Services or other local medical agency as to whether they should attend classes. Generally, the CDC recommendation is to keep away from others as much as possible; including avoiding travel, for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine). If, after contacting a health care provider, it is determined you should not attend classes, notify your faculty member(s) immediately.
- Students with ILI should not participate in other academic activities, work-study, internships or co-curricular activities until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
- Students should avoid close contact (i.e. being within about 6 feet) with persons with ILI.
Students will also want to read the CDC publication H1N1 Flu and You. The link to this publication is: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm
The University has experienced a small outbreak of Influenza Like Illness among students on campus this week. Last week 14 student athletes met the symptom criteria for Influenza Like Illness and were treated according to CDC recommendations. These students are returning to their normal activities as they recuperate. The University administration continues to monitor the situation closely.
Over the summer, our campus plans were updated to handle any situation that may arise concerning the flu, seasonal or H1N1. The small outbreak allowed us to test our plan successfully. In addition, our staff receives daily updates about the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. University leaders are also attending periodic briefings by state and local officials. The University’s emergency response plan has protocols in place for an outbreak of any illness and we will communicate more specifics if the situation warrants. We do want to advise students and parents that in the event of an outbreak, sick or affected students may be advised to go home for several days to recuperate. We will work with students to maintain their academic progress to the greatest extent possible.
We encourage students to take advantage of the free flu vaccines offered by Health Services this fall. While these shots do NOT protect against H1N1, they will limit susceptibility to other strains of flu. When the swine flu vaccine being developed becomes available, Health Services will inform students of the time and location to receive the vaccinations.
The amount of media attention paid to the H1N1 virus has understandably created concern among many people. Please know that Elon University is ready to handle any situation that arises and that our communication to you is a top priority as conditions unfold. Students, faculty, staff and parents are advised to stay informed about University plans in the event of an outbreak. That address is http://www.elon.edu/e-net/.
Please feel free to call The Office of Student Development at (336) 278-7200 if you have any questions.
G. Smith Jackson
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students