• University issues update on H1N1 novel influenza

    From: Madonna McDermott, director of student health and wellness; Daniel Meuwissen, director of public safety; Colin Brownlow, director of environmental health and safety

    There have been new developments today, both nationally and in Minnesota, related to swine flu, which is now being called H1N1 novel influenza.

    This is a rapidly evolving situation. University of St. Thomas staff members are monitoring the outbreak closely and will continue to communicate information from the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Public Health to the campus community as it becomes available.

    This and future updates will be posted on St. Thomas’ Pandemic Planning Web site. You can access that Web site by clicking on the “Health Alert” coupon button found on the bottom of the St. Thomas homepage, or you can go directly to the Pandemic Planning Web site at http://www.stthomas.edu/pandemic/.

    This morning, Wednesday, April 29, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan, State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield and Education Commissioner Alice Seagren held a press conference to discuss Minnesota’s first probable case of H1N1 novel influenza. The reported case is located 60 miles northwest of the Twin Cities in Cold Spring. The probable case is in an individual from a middle school in Stearns County; the student experienced influenza-like symptoms and is recovering at home.

    Two schools, Rocori Middle School and St. Boniface School, have voluntarily closed for the day. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is characterizing the case as “probable,” meaning that the MDH has confirmed the virus as type A influenza, but the strain cannot be identified definitively as H1N1 novel influenza using lab tests available to MDH. Specimens obtained from this individual have been forwarded to the national Center for Disease Control for additional testing.

    The first confirmed death of the H1N1 novel influenza in the United States, meanwhile, has been reported in Texas.

    Typical seasonal influenza does continue to occur in Minnesota at this time of year. The measures below can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.

    • 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 also are effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Students living on or near campus should contact Student Health Services at www.stthomas.edu/studenthealth for advice.

    Resources:

    U.S. Government: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/

    World Health Organization: www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

    St. Thomas Pandemic Planning: www.stthomas.edu/pandemic

    For additional questions, contact the St. Thomas Student Health Service at (651) 962-6750.

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