Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU implements flu readiness plan

With health officials identifying cases of swine influenza (H1N1) in five states, the University of Denver is taking steps to deal with a possible outbreak in Colorado.

As of April 27, there have been no cases of the illness reported in Colorado, and DU health officials report no cases on campus. But Dr. Sam Alexander, executive director of the DU Health and Counseling Center, says he and his staff are preparing for a potential increase in flu cases. Alexander says it is almost certain some cases will be reported in Colorado.

Leading a meeting of DU administrators, Alexander stressed that the H1N1 cases reported in the United States have been similar to routine seasonal flu variations. Patients have reported fever and discomfort, but the virus has not required widespread hospitalizations in this country.

“While we are taking this illness seriously and monitoring reports from state and federal health officials, it’s important to understand that the cases we’ve seen in this country have been treatable. Most patients are recovering or have already fully recovered,” he said. DU has been preparing for a possible pandemic for several years.

DU is reaching out to the campus community to provide information, including contacting some 65 students currently studying abroad. None of those students are studying in Mexico, where the illness was first identified.

As a preliminary step, DU health officials are encouraging vigilance and common sense.

Alexander says students with symptoms that rise above those of the common cold—including a 100-degree fever, body aches and persistent cough—may call the DU Health and Counseling Center. Trained staff can evaluate most cases over the phone. Most often, patients will be advised to avoid contact with others and let the illness run its course.

Faculty and staff members who feel ill should contact their primary care physician.

If patients experience severe vomiting, high fever or difficulty breathing, they are encouraged to seek medical attention.

Treatment for influenza generally includes over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, cough medication and rest.

Students who are ill should contact their professors prior to missing classes to discuss expectations and assignments. Staff members who will miss work should communicate with supervisors to discuss their status and expected return date.

There are no plans to make changes to any regularly scheduled activities at the University at this time.

Working with information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alexander offers these suggestions to help limit the spread of the H1N1 virus:

  • Wash your hands frequently and with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This is how the disease spreads.
  • If you are sick, stay home. Do not venture out to large gatherings, to work or to class.

Visit the DU Flu Updates page for more information.

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