University issues update on H1N1 influenza

The University of St. Thomas continues to monitor the H1N1 influenza outbreak and remains in close contact with the Minnesota Department of Health, according to Madonna McDermott, director of student health and wellness, Daniel Meuwissen, director of public safety, and Colin Brownlow, environmental safety officer.

More than 40 countries worldwide now have reported more than 9,800 H1N1 cases and 79 deaths, with the highest incidence occurring in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

New guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health recommend limiting the testing for H1N1 influenza to select groups of people including those who are hospitalized and health-care workers, as well as those who are pregnant, immunocompromised, or have had recent contact with swine and have an influenza-like illness. As a result of this testing protocol, most mild cases of H1N1 influenza probably will not be detected and may result in lower numbers of confirmed cases in Minnesota.

St. Thomas has had no documented cases of H1N1 influenza on campus. The university continues its normal operations and commencement activities are on schedule.

"However, we continue to emphasize the importance of preventing the spread of influenza by staying home from school and work if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms like sore throat, headache, fever, cough and body aches," explained McDermott. "This would include not participating in St. Thomas’ commencement ceremony if you are ill."

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.

This and other updates can be found on St. Thomas’ Pandemic Planning Web site.

Other resources are:

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

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

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