H1N1 (Swine) Flu Emergency Preparedness
Frequently asked questions
What is novel H1N1
Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new (“novel”) influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization determined that the novel H1N1 virus had spread around the world to the point of qualifying as a pandemic. H1N1 flu is not the same as swine flu, bird (avian) flu or seasonal flu.
How does novel H1N1
Novel H1N1 virus is thought to spread in the same way as seasonal flu. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through contact with droplets released into the air by people with influenza who are coughing and sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
What are the signs
and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include: fever 100 F or higher, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death have occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
How long can an
infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, CDC believes that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
How severe is illness
associated with novel H1N1 flu virus?
So far, the severity of the illness associated with H1N1 flu has been similar to seasonal flu. With influenza (seasonal and H1N1), certain people are at higher risk for developing serious flu-related complications: people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, sickle cell disease, asthma and diabetes people with conditions that weaken the immune system, those taking medication that weakens the immune system and those on chronic aspirin therapy.
I wear a mask to avoid becoming ill?
No, the current situation does not warrant wearing masks. 2009 H1N1 flu is no more serious than the seasonal flu and its symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu.
What does the CDC recommend for people who think they have the
The CDC recommends that people with influenza-like illness remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. The CDC also recommends that if you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
supplies will I need if I am diagnosed with the flu?
- Disposable tissues
- Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
- Fluids such as tea, water, packets of Gatorade, packets of ramen noodles or chicken soup and juice.
- A disposable or digital thermometer
- Salt for salt water gargling for sore throat
- Honey—alone or mixed in tea for sore throat and coughs
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and /or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) for fever and aches. Follow dosing guidelines carefully to avoid excessive amounts.
- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed—the kind you have to ask for at the pharmacy counter, not Sudafed PE) for nasal congestion
- Aspirin- due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome.
- Combination cold remedies—most of these contain Acetaminophen and can lead to taking excessive doses of medicine.
- Over the counter cough medicines—these are usually not very effective. A student with a significant cough should be evaluated in the SHC.
- Zinc lozenges, Airborne—not proven to be effective
there been any cases of 2009 H1N1 (swine) Flu at RIT?
One student was diagnosed by the RIT Student Health Center with an influenza-like illness (and/or reported to the center but treated elsewhere) between Feb 16 and Feb. 22.
What if I get sick?
Most people who are otherwise healthy and not at higher risk for flu complications (see above) will recover from the flu (seasonal or H1N1) without problems. The usual cold and flu advice is helpful-- rest, increased fluids, over the counter fever reducing medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but not aspirin) as needed can help reduce symptoms. Remember: antibiotics are for bacterial infections, not viral infections like influenza. For those who are at higher risk for complications there are prescription anti-viral medications (Tamiflu and Relenza) that can help lessen the severity and the duration of illness from the flu. They must be taken within 48 hours to be effective so, if you fall into this category and become ill with a flu-like illness, contact your health care provider ASAP.
Wash your hands, cover your cough and avoid others—stay away from classes, athletic practice and games, the cafeteria, the mall, etc. If you need assistance with getting food or medicine enlist a roommate’s or friend’s help.
What if I am fine but my roommate is sick?
If you are a person at higher risk who has a roommate or a close family / household member with the flu, you may be able to take anti-viral medication preventively. Talk with a health care provider ASAP.
is influenza-like illness?
It’s an illness that has the symptoms of the flu. Most state and local governments (including New York State and Monroe County) are not testing specifically for the 2009 H1N1 virus unless a patient has been hospitalized. Therefore, all influenza-like illnesses are being treated as though they are the 2009 H1N1 Flu.
is RIT recommending that I do to keep from getting sick?
RIT suggests that you follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines for hand-hygiene and respiratory etiquette. These are:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue 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 hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Other important actions that you can take are:
- Follow public health advice regarding avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home or in your room for a week or so; a supply of alcohol-based hand rubs or cleaners, tissues and other related items could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious
should students do if they think they have the flu?
Call your primary care physician or the Student Health Center (585-475-2255) and follow the instructions provided. For more information about the Student Health Center or hours of operation, please visit the Student Health Center web page at: http://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/studenthealth/
should faculty and staff do if they think they have the flu?
Stay home; contact your primary care physician and follow his/her advice. RIT’s current HR policies apply. They are found at http://finweb.rit.edu/humanresources/.
I was told to stay home, who should I
Students call or e-mail your advisor and let him/her know you’ve been told by your physician or the Student Health Center to stay home or in your residence. Faculty and staff should call their immediate supervisor.
RIT be cancelling classes and events?
No. At this time there is no reason to cancel classes or events. 2009 H1N1 flu is no more serious than the seasonal flu and its symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu.
How will RIT communicate with me?
Updates will be posted on the RIT web site at http://www.emergency.rit.edu/ and http://www.rit.edu/h1n1, or other means may be used as appropriate (e-mail, RITAlert, etc.)
RIT asking students to leave campus and recover at home if suspected or
confirmed of having the flu?
Currently the CDC recommends if you are sick with flu-like illness, you should self-isolate in your home or RIT residency for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. To prevent the spread of H1N1, RIT would ask students to consider leaving campus and recover at home if possible.
my roommate is sick with the flu can I move to another room?
Since RIT housing is normally 100 percent occupied in Fall, it is not likely that there will be enough rooms available to move students into. Rooms that may become available for temporary relocation of students will be utilized for students with underlying chronic medical conditions.
should I do if my roommate is sick with the flu and stays in the room?
If you are uncomfortable staying in your room, you are welcome to find temporary housing with a friend until your roommate recovers. If you are able to commute from home, this may be an option to consider. If you stay in the room, make sure you practice good hygiene. Clean your space, including door knobs and appliances with a disinfectant that kills virus. These include products like Lysol Brand Disinfectant S.A. Cleaner, Clorox Brand Disinfecting Wipes and Formula 409 Brand/Cleaner/Degreaser Disinfectant. A complete list of EPA-registered disinfectants for H1N1 is at http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/influenza-a-product-list.pdf
have any other questions, who should I call?
Call RIT’s toll-free information hotline for questions related to Swine Flu at 1-866-624-8330 (TTY: 1-866-758-1958)
Wash it—Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based cleaner (at least 60% alcohol). Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes before you wash your hands.
Cover it—Cover your cough with your elbow or a tissue. Wash your hands afterward.
Get it—Get a seasonal flu shot. On campus seasonal flu vaccine clinics will be offered- probably in early fall. When a vaccine is available for the H1N1 flu, the campus will be alerted.