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H1N1 Update for Students: 8/21/09

Important Information for the Start of Fall Semester


As we head into the fall, the nation is preparing for widespread cases of the H1N1 influenza virus, otherwise known as "swine flu." As you have now probably heard, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that the virus has and will continue to cause a greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age compared to older age groups. In light of this information, MICA is acting strategically, taking steps to prepare for likely cases of the H1N1 virus on our campus. MICA is asking for everyone's help as we strive to minimize the spread of the virus and prepare for a challenging academic year, including some specific requests for you as students.

Information about the H1N1 Virus

The H1N1 virus is very similar to the seasonal flu, with symptoms lasting for approximately seven days (on average) including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Complications from the H1N1 virus appear to be associated with pregnancy and other underlying, high risk medical conditions that include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive conditions, and neuromuscular disorders.

The CDC advises several actions that can be used by individuals to help protect everyone's health, and we enourage students to use these strategies:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
* wash your hands often with soap and water;
* use alcohol-based hand cleaners on a frequent basis;
* avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and
* clean common, hard surfaces frequently to lessen the chances of contracting or spreading viruses.

The CDC has also issued specific guidelines for college and universities, and will likely continue to provide updates within the next several weeks. MICA will be taking steps as we work with our community of students, faculty, and staff to help adhere to these guidelines, and we want you to also be aware of them if you or your roomate(s) becomes ill with a likely case of the H1N1 virus:

* Students, faculty, or staff with an influenza-like illness (ILI) should self-isolate (i.e., stay away from others) in their residence hall room or home for at least 24 hours after any fever is gone. Exceptions include the need to get medical care or other necessities, such as medicine. Persons with ILI should stay away from others in order to stop the spread of the illness.
* Persons with ILI should contact campus health services or their health provider by telephone or other remote means to report any illness before seeking care. The phone number for Mt. Royal Medical Associates is (410) 225-8855.
* Persons with ILI should cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing if they must leave their residence. Masks will be made available upon request at residence hall and building desks.

Please note that while MICA's residential housing is currently at full occupancy, MICA will reserve any rooms that become available for the potential isolation of sick students from our residential communities and will help to coordinate plans for any necessary support services, including delivery of meals. However, there may be situations when a student cannot be isolated and roommates are invited to relocate to another friend's apartment until the risk of infection has passed. Off-campus students may need to coordinate support and meal delivery through family, roommates, and friends. MICA will work closely with the Baltimore City Health Department, using recommendations for case by case management of any H1N1 virus illnesses reported on campus.

Your Role as a Student: How You Can Help

* If you are a new freshman or transfer student, please actively monitor your health. If you have an influenza-like illness prior to the beginning of MICA's Orientation,you should not attend the event. Your on-campus housing will be held, and the Office of Student Affairs will advise faculty about your situation. Student Affairs can be contacted by phone at (410) 225-2422.
* If you are an upperclass student and have an influenza-like illness immediately prior to the first day of classes, please wait to arrive on campus until after the infection. Please contact Student Affairs at the above phone number so we can contact the appropriate offices.
* Prepare by stocking up on over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, anti-bacterial cleaners (such as Lysol), soups, tissues, and other related items. These items are useful in case of illness, and can prevent the need to go out in public while sick or contagious.
* Be aware that current information provided by the CDC is that an additional H1N1 vaccine should be made available in late October.
* If you live in close quarters with other students, practice clean sharing and hygiene.
* If you hve any of the underlying medical conditions mentioned earlier in this letter, please contact your health care provider prior to your arrival at MICA for recommendations on the upcoming semester.
* It is important to not go to class if you have flu-like symptoms, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact the Office of Student Affairs so we can work with you around documentation of illness and communicate your absences to MICA faculty members.
* If your family members or friends live within the mid-Atlantic region (within an approximate six hours or less drive-time to campus), we will ask that you be picked up if you have a likely case of the H1N1 virus. This will help prevent the spread of the virus to the community. Once you are no longer contagious, you can return to campus.