Department of Public Safety

 

Community Response Checklist

-Pandemic Flu Outbreak-

 

Flu refers to illnesses caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Flu can cause a range of symptoms and effects, from mild to lethal.

Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems, but certain people are at high risk for serious complications. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population; the virus causes serious illness and spreads easily from person-to-person worldwide. Two strains of flu, seasonal flu and the H1N1 (Swine) flu, are currently circulating in the United States. A third, highly lethal H5N1 (Bird) flu is being closely tracked overseas.

Extensive efforts are underway to track and monitor the spread of all flu viruses. In the U.S., epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working with states to collect, compile and analyze reports of flu outbreaks. Flu symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. In H1N1 flu infection, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.

Annual outbreaks of the seasonal flu usually occur during the late fall through early spring. Most people have natural immunity, and a seasonal flu vaccine is available. In a typical year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu and approximately 36,000 flu-related deaths are reported.

This year, the H1N1 flu virus may cause a more dangerous flu season with a lot more people getting sick, being hospitalized and dying than during a regular flu season. H1N1 is a new virus first seen in the United States. It is contagious and spreads from person to person. Like seasonal flu, illness in people with H1N1 can vary from mild to severe. For more information on the current flu pandemic or general information please visit the CDC website: http://www.flu.gov.

Listed below are some general safety tips to help prevent the spread of flu viruses:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; germs are spread this way.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. A fever is a temperature taken with a thermometer that is equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius. Look for possible signs of fever: if the person feels very warm, has a flushed appearance, or is sweating or shivering.
  • Stay home if you have flu or flu-like illness for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen).  Don’t go to class or work.
  • Additional recommendations from the Center from Disease Control are:
    • Students ill with H1N1 should practice self-isolation (whether at their own home or the home of a friend/relative) and not return to campus until they have recovered.
    • Students who can utilize distance-learning methods may be able to continue studies even while ill.
    • Faculty, staff, and administration suffering from H1N1 should follow the same self-isolation guidelines as students.
  • Talk with your health care providers about whether you should be vaccinated for seasonal flu. Also if you are at higher risk for flu complications from 2009 H1N1 flu, you should consider getting the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. People at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes). For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm