flu update

Update Objectives

This site provides guidance on infection prevention and control for Colby-Sawyer students, faculty, staff and the community at large. Its main objectives are to:

  • Protect overall public health by reducing community transmission of illness

  • Reduce illness transmission in students, faculty and staff

  • Protect people with high-risk conditions

What You Can Do: Take Precautions

  • Cover coughs and sneezes – flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or in the absence of a tissue, one's sleeve. Dispose of tissue after use (preferably no-touch receptacles).

  • Improve hand hygiene – wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand cleaner (especially after coughing or sneezing).

  • Stay in when sick – if you are sick with a fever (>100 degrees F / 37.8 degrees C) stay in and minimize your exposure to others. Go home to get well if you can. Return to classes and activities 24 hours after fever resolves without fever reducing medication (Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.)

  • Get the recommended seasonal flu shot – the flu shot may prevent the seasonal virus. It is especially recommended for high-risk groups including those with respiratory illnesses. Flu shots will be offered on campus when the vaccine arrives.

Note: When an H1N1 vaccine becomes available, its distribution will be managed by the state of New Hampshire. Working under the direction of the designated state health region, an H1N1 vaccine will be made available to the campus to the extent possible.

  • Increase social distances – social interaction is important to a healthy lifestyle but consider what can be done to increase distances (for example extend greeting by an elbow bump or bow in lieu of a hand shake; leave space between seating if possible, etc.). Don't share personal items like drinks, food or eating utensils.

  • Increase routine cleaning - clean high-touch surfaces (for example, bathrooms, doorknobs, elevator buttons, computer keyboards, remote controls, tables, desks etc.). Disposable wipes come in handy for this. Frequently clean living quarters, including high-touch surfaces. Use the hand sanitizer before and after using campus keyboards.

Be Prepared Ahead of Time

Supplies – the following supplies are recommended for prevention of and preparedness for flu:

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Disinfectant wipes

  • Bottled water / Sports drinks

  • Tissues

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Masks/Gloves

  • Digital thermometer

Plan Ahead

  • Take essential books on weekend leave

  • Assure computer access from home or an alternate site

  • Consider temporarily relocating to a “well” room if your roommate is sick

  • Consider suspending or modifying attendance to public events such as films, sporting events or ceremonies if flu threat increases.

Who Is at Higher Risk of Flu

People at high risk for complications who have flu-like symptoms should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible. Groups at higher risk of complications from flu include the following:

  • those 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 with asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes;

  • 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 2009 H1N1 infection compared to younger people. But if older adults do get sick from flu, they are at increased risk of having a severe illness.

One of the best ways to protect against the flu is to get a flu vaccination. People under age 25 are one of the key groups recommended by The Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to be among the first to receive the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination.

Signs and Symptoms of Influenza-like Illness

  • Fever of 100 degrees F or 37.8 C or higher

  • Runny nose, cough, sore throat

What To Do If You Are At Risk or Sick

Call Baird Health and Counseling Center (BHCC) at x3621

  • If you have a medical condition that puts you at increased risk of severe illness from flu

  • When you are concerned about your illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing, call Baird Health Center at once, or Campus Safety if after hours: Campus Safety: EMERGENCY x3300 or non-emergency x3675.

Those with flu-like illness should stay away from classes 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.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/exclusion.htm.

What to Expect

Baird Health and Counseling Center Sick Visit – when a patient presents with flu-like symptoms, to the extent possible, the following will occur:

  • Patients may be asked to wait in a segregated waiting area and to put on a surgical mask as a visual queue for the flu.

  • The provider will wear a mask and other PPE (personal protective equipment) during the health evaluation.

  • The provider may recommend social distancing until there are no further symptoms. This may include:

  • Go home if possible. Students with flu-like illness who live close to the campus should return home to keep from making others sick. Those with flu-like illness will be asked to self-isolate at home or at a friend's or family member's home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

  • On-campus segregation - Students with a private room should remain in their room and limit exposure to others on campus (self-isolate). For ill students with roommates, the well student may be asked to temporarily relocate to alternate housing or a “well” room if available until 24 hours after the ill student is free of fever. For those in self-isolation, persons can make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with each student who is in self-isolation.

  • Based on the severity and spread of the flu, BHCC may make recommendations to limit or cancel extracurricular activities on the campus.

  • Students who are ill should contact their instructor to notify them if classes will be missed due to illness

Important Note: At present, the state of New Hampshire does not mandate reporting for influenza. New Hampshire has a surveillance system for monitoring the trending of influenza viruses. Persons with flu symptoms will not be tested for H1N1 unless hospitalized due to the severity of the illness.

To date, most people infected with novel influenza A H1N1 virus have had self-limited illness (have not spread to others) and have recovered without the need for antiviral medications.

Health-care profession students are reminded to follow infection control guidance for health-care workers. Visit the CDC for guidance for health care settings.

Stay Informed

The spread and threat of influenza is a dynamic situation. Ongoing communication and collaboration is essential to minimize the spread of infection. Colby-Sawyer maintains a Pandemic Response Plan within the college's Emergency Management Plan. Updates are made to plans based on the most current information.

For more information, see the following web sites.

Health Alerts on the Colby-Sawyer web site:

http://www.colby-sawyer.edu/campus-life/bhcc/index.html

Frequently asked questions on H1N1 virus:

http:/www.colby-sawyer/campus-life/bhcc/alerts/swineflu/faq.html

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services resource for H1N1 influenza:

http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/DHHS/DHHS_SITE/swineflu.htm

United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) resource for H1N1: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.htm

Guidance for the use of antiviral agents for novel influenza A H1N1 available at:

http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/recommendations.htm

Reports on antiviral resistance testing in the United States will be available at:

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

World Health Organization (WHO) resources: http://who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en"

WHO Resources Specific to Europe: http://www.euro.who.int/infuenza

Guidance on Mask Usage (from World Health Organization web site)

  • If you are not sick you do not have to wear a mask.

  • If you are caring for a sick person, you can wear a mask when you are in close contact with the ill person and dispose of it immediately after contact, and cleanse your hands thoroughly afterward.

  • If you are sick and must travel or be around others, cover your mouth and nose.

  • If masks are worn, proper use and disposal is essential to ensure they are potentially effective and to avoid any increase in risk of transmission associated with the incorrect use of masks.

The following information on correct use of masks derives from the practices in health-care settings:

  • Place mask carefully to cover mouth and nose and tie securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask

  • While in use, avoid touching the mask (whenever you touch a used mask, for example, when removing or washing, clean hands by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub)

  • Replace masks with a new clean, dry mask as soon as they become damp/humid

  • Do not re-use single-use masks

  • Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removing

Although some alternative barriers to standard medical masks are frequently used (e.g. cloth mask, scarf, paper masks, rags tied over the nose and mouth), there is insufficient information available on their effectiveness.

If such alternative barriers are used, they should only be used once or, in the case of cloth masks, should be cleaned thoroughly between each use (i.e. wash with normal household detergent at normal temperature. They should be removed immediately after caring for the ill. Hands should be washed immediately after removal of the mask.

BHCC Note: Due to potential increased level of exposure, health care workers are advised to use an N95 mask. OSHA requires that masks be test fitted to assure effectiveness.