U. sets H1N1 virus precautions as flu season approaches


Gesundheit! It's never been more important to mind your manners and cover your nose and mouth as flu season approaches — especially with national concerns of another H1N1 influenza outbreak, more commonly known as the swine flu.The University has taken precautions to safe guard against infections at the school, said President Richard L. McCormick in an e-mail sent out to the student body and staff last week."Earlier this year, Rutgers assembled a team of health care professionals and administrators to develop a plan for responding to the virus," he said in the correspondence. "Over the summer, this group has continued to meet and has maintained regular contact with the state's health department and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."This team consists of individuals from several University units, including Student Health Services, Occupational Health Services, Student Affairs, Emergency Management and Emergency Service, Human Resources, Environmental Health and Safety as well as Facilities and Dining Services, said E.J. Miranda, director of University Media Relations.They coordinated an emergency tabletop exercise during the summer, which involved review and discussion of general information related to H1N1."As intended in these exercises, the focus was on training and familiarization with roles, procedures or responsibilities," Miranda said. Come October, county health officials will distribute a vaccine to the University, he said."The vaccine will be distributed free of charge [to students, faculty and staff]," McCormick said. "The vaccine will be administered by two injections 21 days apart."More information on the vaccine will be released when the University has received it, he said.If experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is best to go to Health Services immediately, said an anonymous University student who has recently recovered from H1N1."[Health Services] gave me the medicine right there on the spot and that helped me recover faster," said the source, a Livingston College senior. "The longer you wait, the medicine won't work … If you start feeling like you have the flu, just go right away."Health Services also gave the source's roommates Tamiflu to prevent spreading of the virus, she said.Ill international and out-of-state students or those who are unable to go home are asked to remain in their rooms until they are symptom free without medication for 24 hours, said Daniel Pascale, director of Emergency Management.In order to aid sick students, Residence Life is planning on setting up a flu buddy system, said Joan Carbone, director of Residence Life.The idea behind the buddy system allows students to still use dining services without leaving the comfort of their room."The buddy would bring their [sick student's] ID card and a note from health services to the dining hall," she said.Carbone also suggested the buddy system be used for errands, such as picking up over-the-counter medicine or getting orange juice from the store."It is the responsibility of everybody on campus to help prevent and decrease the spread of the disease by … frequent hand washing, staying home or in the residence hall and away from others when ill, and covering coughs or sneezes … While these may be things your mother told you to do, they actually work," Miranda said.Following these guidelines can prevent contraction of even the common cold."Now I'm just a little more cautious," the anonymous source said. "I have no idea how I got it."

 


Sara Gretina

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