This handout is intended to provide you with some basic information about the H1N1 influenza (swine flu), or “Gripe A ” as it is known in Spain, and about the precautions we are undertaking. It is explicitly NOT intended to substitute for medical advice. The likelihood that the H1N1 will reappear in the Northern Hemisphere this fall/winter is relatively high. While this is not cause for alarm, you should educate yourself about this disease, and remain informed about local and national announcements concerning any possible H1N1 influenza outbreak. As with any infectious or communicable disease, the decisions you make can have important consequences. Exercising sound judgement is your responsibility, both to yourself and to those around you. An appropriate response to the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak rests on three pillars:
1) Recognizing and responding to symptoms
2) Taking reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of H1N1 influenza
3) Educating yourself about H1N1 influenza, and remaining well-informed and up to
WHAT IS SWINE FLU AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? Not every ache, pain or sniffle is evidence that you have contracted H1N1 flu. That said, the prospects of an H1N1 epidemic do require certain vigilance from all of us. This is not the time to conclude – as many of us often do—that we “ j ust have the flu, and it will pass ”. Instead, you should watch for symptoms. Common symptoms include an unexpected persistent fever above 38°C (100°F); unexpected muscle aches or stiffness; unexpected or unexplainable fatigue; persistent coughing or breathing difficulties; cough, sore throat, headache, and chills. Other symptoms reported with the infection include vomiting and diarrhea. Some cases have been reported without a fever or with conjunctivitis but these cases are rare. Severe disease had led to fatal outcomes usually as a result of pneumonia, or respiratory failure. Keep in mind that patients infected with H1N1 may not exhibit all of these symptoms, but persistent fever, coupled with one or more of the additional symptoms, may indicate H1N1 infection. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS? We strongly suggest you travel with hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and Kleenex. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of the virus that causes respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. This
is a simple, low-tech and extremely effective measure that requires a minimal effort on your part. Wash your hands frequently; when you do, lather for the length of time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday. ” Dry your hands well.
* Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. This is particularly useful if done
before and after entering spaces where many people are present or in close contact (e.g. classes, communal meals, movies, etc…)
* Sneezing or coughing into the crook of your elbow, not the palm of your hand. And
wash your hands after bouts of coughing or sneezing. You can also cover your nose
and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it, once.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Many viruses and bacteria can spread this
* Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage
your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
ADDITIONAL COMMONSENSE ADVICE:
* Don ’t wear, use, share, or mix personal belongings (utensils, towels, glasses,
* Clean all shared surfaces and objects regularly (doorknobs, toilet seats, telephone,
remote controls, computer keyboards, etc.).
* Tightly close and regularly dispose of plastic bags containing used masks, tissues, and
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS?
Students who believe that are experiencing symptoms of the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) are instructed to immediately notify the PRESHCO Resident Director. Please also send an e-mail to the appropriate person in the study abroad office of your home institution. Start with the director of that office, if you are not sure to whom the e-mail should be directed and note:
* your symptoms and the date they began; * the best way to contact you (a phone number is preferable: cell phone number, your
dorm room number, home stay family phone number, etc.)
WHAT WILL PRESHCO DO? The Resident Director, in consultation with the appropriate study abroad person and campus coordinator at your home institution and your family (if necessary), will work with you and the on-site staff to ensure the best response in your situation. This may include but is not limited to quarantine, medical visits, and treatment plan. WHAT CAN YOU DO IF IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT YOU HAVE THE FLU?
* Be aware of the course of your illness. If your fever increases, you experience more
severe symptoms, or are having any sort of respiratory trouble, contact the Resident Director.
* Stay home. Leaving home when symptoms are present can significantly accelerate the
* Rest and be kind to yourself. Make sure you are well hydrated. Analgesics (Tylenol,
Paracetamol, etc…) are helpful in reducing fever and mitigating symptoms. They will not shorten the duration of the flu, but they will help you feel better.
* Minimize contact with others. If you cannot be home, keep your distance from other
people. Avoid the ubiquitous kissing, do not shake hands or give out hugs. Your friends will understand, and ultimately, they’ll be grateful.
* Wearing a surgical mask reduces your chances of infecting others. Keep in mind that
the type of masks available in drugstores have no preventive value. They will not keep you from getting the flu, but they do help keep you from spreading your flu to others.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING SITES:
WHO website: HYPERLINK "http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html" http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html
Centers for Disease Control: HYPERLINK "http://cdc.gov/h1n1flu/" http://cdc.gov/h1n1flu/
A FEW WORDS ABOUT TAMIFLU AND THE H1N1 VACCINE: Tamiflu is an effective antiviral medication, which will lessen the severity of symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Tamiflu is also a prescription medication, and its use as a preventive is both useless and reduces the overall effectiveness of Tamiflu (by selecting for Tamiflu-resistant strains). The H1N1 vaccine is now in production, but significant supplies are not likely to be available until late October or November.
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