Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU finalizes preparedness plans for H1N1 flu

DU officials spent part of the summer preparing for H1N1 influenza — commonly referred to as swine flu — but they advise the University community not to be overly concerned about the illness.

“We know there will be cases of H1N1 on campus, but we’ll also deal with seasonal flu when students return,” says Dr. Sam Alexander, executive director of the DU Health and Counseling Center. “It’s important for everyone to understand that H1N1 is receiving a lot of attention right now, but there’s no need to panic if you or someone you know is diagnosed with the virus.”

Alexander says H1N1 appears to spread more easily than seasonal flu but both can lead to hospitalization and, in some cases, death.

A committee made up of representatives from many DU departments has been reviewing how more illnesses on campus could impact the University community.

Since residence halls are full for the fall term, the roommate of a sick individual will be advised to try to find another place to live for a few days, which could include home if the student’s family is from Denver or with a friend. Otherwise, they may stay in their dorm room and avoid close contact with their ill roommate.

Sick students are encouraged to “self-isolate” until flu symptoms have passed and they should not return to class until at least 24 hours after their fever resolves without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen. This period of time will usually be three to five days, Alexander says.

In addition, health officials are making several recommendations as flu season approaches and the risk of H1N1 increases in the northern hemisphere:

1.) Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
2.) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, sleeve, or elbow when sneezing or coughing.
3.) Watch for signs of flu symptoms, including a temperature greater than 100 degrees and a sore throat and/or a cough. Other symptoms may include headache, fatigue, body aches and a runny nose.
4.) Anyone with flu-like symptoms should consider calling their health provider. In most cases, health care instructions can be given over the phone and a doctor visit can be avoided. The Health and Counseling Center is available only to students.

“A vaccine for H1N1 may be available by mid-October, but it may not be widely available until later in the fall,” Alexander says. DU will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for distribution.

Students and faculty will be contacted in the coming weeks regarding how to handle class attendance and assignments in the event a student becomes ill.

DU’s Web site — — will be regularly updated to include H1N1 information.

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