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ASU prepares for fall flu season

August 23, 2009

ASU is asking all students, faculty and staff to help prepare for the seasonal and H1N1 flus this fall by following key simple steps. Although the H1N1 virus (also known as swine flu) has produced mild flu symptoms – cough, sneezing, fever and body aches – in the majority of people who have been infected, ASU is focusing on protecting its campuses from widespread infection.

“The primary message from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has been for students, staff and faculty to adhere to key principles in protecting the campuses from an outbreak of H1N1 this fall,” says Dr. Allan L. Markus, Director of Campus Health Services at ASU.

“The CDC and ADHS ask students, faculty and staff to stay home if they are mildly sick with flu symptoms until their fever has abated for at least 24 hours, wash their hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand cleaner, cover their cough or sneeze with their sleeve, and get their seasonal flu shot early,” Markus says. “A two-course H1N1 flu vaccine may be ready by mid-October and our students (under age 25) are a high-priority vaccination group.”

ASU’s health officials are also urging the campus community to stock up on medical supplies such as acetaminophen (example: Tylenol), ibuprofen (example: Motrin) and diarrhea medicine (example: Immodium). According to CDC guidelines for colleges and universities, students should have a two-week supply of over-the-counter medications to treat mild flu symptoms.

“ASU Campus Health Service has been working with Residential Life on setting up systems to monitor the health and safety of students in the residence halls,” Markus says.

ASU is working with county and state health departments and following CDC guidance for higher-education institutions. The university has put into action a robust plan that was developed three years ago to protect the health and safety of its students in case of a widespread flu virus outbreak.

ASU’s health officials are advising ill students with moderate to severe flu symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, headache, runny nose, general fatigue, muscle pains, diarrhea and vomiting to go to any one of the health centers located on their four campuses to be checked. ASU students, faculty and staff who are sick should avoid contact with large groups by staying home until they have been without a fever for at least 24 hours or their primary care doctor tells them that they are no longer infectious to others.

There are antiviral medications available to treat the flu, but current CDC guidelines state that antiviral medications should be given for those who are experiencing more than mild illness and those at high risk of complications. Preventive treatment is not needed for individuals who have no symptoms unless they are both at high risk and they have very close prolonged contact (example: a caregiver or roommate).

ASU is advising students and faculty who are traveling to other countries to confer with their health-care provider or visit the ASU Travel Clinic to get more information on health risks and prevention before they go.

More Information may be obtained about H1N1 from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the ASU Pandemic Flu Web site H1N1 Flu Information.

Information about ASU’s Health Service can be found at ASU Campus Health Service and at 480-965-3346 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays.

For an explanation of the World Health Organization’s Epidemic and Pandemic Alert system alerts and for the current status, visit the World Health Organization - Alerts site.