As you are undoubtedly aware, numerous cases of H1N1 flu have been reported at college and university campuses around the country recently, as students return to campus. Cases of H1N1 flu were reported at Northwestern last spring and summer and already one student has been identified with it this fall. Realistically, there undoubtedly will be more once the academic year is fully under way.
Northwestern, along with public health agencies locally and nationally, has been preparing for the potential of a wider outbreak of this particular flu virus. University leaders, health services and emergency management personnel have been meeting to plan the University's response now and in the future if circumstances change. Plans and procedures are in place to ensure an effective response.
The Northwestern University Health Service has prepared a comprehensive guide to dealing with the H1N1 virus, both in terms of prevention and what to do if you do come down with the flu. That information is available at:
For additional information, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site:
In addition, all Northwestern students, faculty and staff who are planning foreign travel in the near future are advised to consult the International SOS web page on the issue:
While the H1N1 virus cannot be stopped, there are several key things that you can do to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu at Northwestern.
The University strongly advises that all students, faculty and staff follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including:
- If you're experiencing flu-like symptoms, stay home and isolate yourself so you don't spread the illness to others. This is not a time for you to try to "tough it out" and come to class/work when you're not feeling well. If a student suspects that he/she has H1N1 flu and can return home for isolation, please do so. People with fever (temperature of 100 degrees F/37.8 degrees C or greater) AND either a cough or sore throat should isolate themselves from others until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners, such as Purell, are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Get a flu vaccine shot for seasonal flu before you return to campus.
- Bring your own Purell or other hand sanitizer to campus and use it frequently. Students also should bring their own thermometers so they can take their own temperatures to determine whether they have a fever.
The University is advising faculty to use common-sense leniency in regard to student absences this fall, including relaxing enforcement of the requirement that students attend the first day of class or be dropped from the course. Staff members experiencing flu-like symptoms also should isolate themselves at home. They should report their absences to their supervisors, per normal procedures, and record their absences due to illness in the University's time reporting system.
Northwestern will follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other appropriate agencies in developing the University's continuing response to this issue. The University will continue to monitor the situation and will keep the Northwestern community informed.