Protect yourself against nH1N1
Updated: October 29, 2009 -- The nH1N1 vaccine is now available at San Francisco Public Health Department Clinics at the times and locations listed below. Oct. 29: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Oct. 30 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to noon. This vaccine is for all people from 6 months through 24 years of age and individuals in high risk groups. For information about locations and eligibility, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~shs/H1N1_Flu/H1N1_Vaccine.html
Updated: Sept. 28.Hygiene and frequent hand washing can do more to stop the spread of the novel H1N1 virus than any high-tech option, says Alastair Smith, M.D., director of Student Health Services. The campus community is advised to follow healthy habits to stay well and slow the spread of the virus.
Also known as the swine flu, novel H1N1 (nH1N1) is prevalent throughout the Bay Area, including the SF State campus, and is currently a relatively mild influenza. Though the World Health Organization categorized nH1N1 as a pandemic disease, this definition refers to the widespread geography of the virus, not its virulence.
The exact number of nH1N1 cases on campus is unknown, but is known to be consistent with numbers in a typical flu season. "The San Francisco Public Health Department isn’t testing any flu samples from non-hospitalized patients, but the majority of cases of an influenza-like illness will be nH1N1," said Dr. Smith. "Additionally we have advised healthy individuals that they do not need to seek medical help for mild symptoms. If you're sick, stay home, isolate.”
People who are sick with flu-like symptoms need to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the help of fever-reducing medications.
- Wear a simple mask if you need to leave home or get medical care.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Keep away from others as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus.
For students living in the residence halls and apartments, complete isolation will be difficult. Housing officials are taking measures to mitigate the spread of the virus:
- Seventy-five hand sanitizer dispensers are being installed throughout housing -- at entrances, near public bathrooms and elevators.
- Sick individuals will be isolated to their rooms and their meals brought to them.
- Sick individuals who share a room with roommates are advised to wear a face mask at all times when uninfected people are around them (within 6 feet).
- Office of University Housing will make masks and thermometers available for people who are sick. If a face mask becomes damp or wet, replace it with a new one.
Residents who are sick should contact the Resident Assistant (RA) for their floor or section in Mary Ward Hall, Mary Park Hall, the Science and Technology Theme Community, or the Towers and the Village at Centennial Square. Residents may also speak with anyone at their community desk in order to have the RA on duty called. Students in the University Park South (UPS) Residential Life units should contact the Community Assistant (CA) for their section.
Roommates should avoid sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors, eating utensils or towels. Everyone, especially those sharing a room with a sick student, should frequently wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer that consists of at least 60 percent alcohol.
The importance of staying home and isolating is underscored by the CDC's advice to employers and faculty not to ask for a doctor's note. "Getting a doctor's note requires sitting in a waiting room and possibly infecting others," Dr. Smith said. More information on sick notes can be found at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~shs/PDF_Files/H1N1/Novel_H1N1_Flu_Sick_Note_Memo.pdf
Some chronic conditions may put individuals at higher risk of complications from influenza. These include:
- Chronic lung disease, such as asthma and emphysema, or kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Severe anemia
- Diseases including HIV infection or treatments that depress immunity
Also at high risk of complication are people 18 years of age or younger and those over 65 years of age. If sick, these individuals should seek care from a healthcare provider.
Everyone is advised to follow these everyday actions to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Use alcohol-based hand cleaners with more than 60 percent alcohol.
- Get vaccinated against seasonal influenza now and with nH1N1 vaccine when available.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
For more information on nH1N1, visit: http://www.sfsu.edu/~shs/H1N1_Flu/H1N1_Flu.html
You may follow SF State News on Twitter (SFState_News) to receive information on the availability of the nH1N1 vaccine and active notification of any updates.
Update: To read a letter from Alastair Smith, M.D., Director, Student Health Services, visit: http://www.sfsu.edu/news/announce/131b.html
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