Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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H1N1 Prevention & Preparedness
September 10, 2009
MACOMB, IL -- As recent news stories have reported, cases on H1N1 on college campuses and within the K-12 school systems are on the rise. According to Mary Margaret Harris, director of Beu Health Center at Western Illinois University, there has been an increase at Western of students reporting flu-like symptoms; however, there has not yet been a confirmed H1N1 case. Harris stressed there are a few things everyone can do to keep all flu and cold bugs at bay.
Prevention is often the best medicine to avoid the virus, Harris stressed. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Tips to avoid the transmission of influenza include covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, not hands; frequent handwashing; staying home when sick; and get a flu shot.
Follow other common sense advice like not sharing cups, straws or eating utensils; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth; and clean commonly-touched surfaces (door knobs, refrigerator handles, telephones, etc). Also, eat a variety of foods from all food groups, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep every night. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper handwashing is the single most important action that people can take to keep from getting sick and from spreading illness to others.
"The key to avoiding so many illnesses comes down to handwashing. This simple act can dramatically reduce the spread of infection and the number of sick days," she added. "If you do end up developing flu-like symptoms, the best advice is to stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids."
Seasonal flu symptoms develop quickly; include fever and a sore throat and/or coughing, body aches, chills, and headache. Reported H1N1 symptoms are similar to seasonal flu and may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms of the common cold are generally much milder than the flu, develop more slowly, and usually do not include a fever.
"If you don't feel well, stay home and avoid contact with others," Harris stressed. "Students with a flu-like illness who live in group housing, such as a residence hall or fraternity/sorority, should return to their permanent home, if possible to keep others from getting sick. Consistent with CDC recommendations, individuals with the flu should stay home until free of a fever for 24 hours."
WIU-Macomb students who feel ill should contact Beu Health Center at (309) 298-1888 prior to coming to the health center, while WIU-QC students should contact their local health care provider. Employees with flu-like symptoms should contact their local health care provider.
In addition, a recent policy was established regarding student and employee absences should there be a significant H1N1 outbreak. WIU-Macomb students missing class as a result of displaying flu-like symptoms or being diagnosed with H1N1 must contact the Office of Student Development and Orientation (SDO) as soon as possible. SDO will then contact the student's instructors and the Beu Health Center. WIU-Quad Cities students must contact the Office of Academic and Student Services (OASS), who will contact the student's instructors. Students will not be counted absent and will be allowed to make up missed assignments and exams.
Employees missing work as a result of displaying flu-like symptoms or being diagnosed with H1N1 need to contact their supervisor as soon as possible. Employees should stay home if exhibiting flu-like symptoms or receiving an H1N1 diagnosis.
Beu offers an array of services, including immunizations/vaccines. Seasonal flu vaccines will be available to students at no cost later this month, while H1N1 vaccines are also expected to arrive sometime this semester, Harris said. McDonough County Health Department staff will provide WIU employee and retiree seasonal flu shots Oct. 13-14 in the University Union Lincoln Room on the WIU-Macomb campus. More information will be released at a later date. Dates have not yet been determined for the WIU-QC campus.
For more information about Beu's services, visit www.student.services.wiu.edu/beu. For more information related to H1N1, visit wiu.edu/pandemic.
Posted By: Darcie Shinberger, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606