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

The U.S. Health and Human Services secretary has declared a public emergency nationwide involving Swine Influenza A. This new strain of flu has infected more than 1,000 people in Mexico and has spread into the United States, where 20 documented cases are now known. Because there is clear human-to-human spread of the new virus, Mexico and the U.S. government have taken significant steps in an effort to contain this outbreak.

Though there are confirmed deaths in Mexico, the cases in the United States have been mild, with only one requiring brief hospitalization. This is a rapidly evolving situation. The University of St. Thomas staff is monitoring the outbreak closely will continue to communicate information from the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Public Health to the community as it becomes available.

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu; however 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.