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H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza Information

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General Flu Information

About the Flu Vaccine

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What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?

The symptoms of H1N1 and seasonal flu are similar. They generally include:

Illnesses with a lot of nasal congestion and mild fever are probably not the flu. Illnesses with only diarrhea and vomiting are probably not H1N1 flu, although some with a confirmed case of H1N1 have had such symptoms. People may have only one or two symptoms besides a fever, or they may have many.

What is 2009 H1N1?

H1N1 is a new type of influenza A virus that is transmitted from person to person in the same way as seasonal flu. Just like seasonal flu, HIN1 flu can be mild to severe.

Viruses that cause the flu and other illnesses like the common cold are spread from person to person mainly when a person with a cold or the flu coughs or sneezes. You can be infected by inhaling the viruses in droplets from the sneeze or cough or by touching a surface or an object with viruses on it (like a desk, doorknob or computer mouse) and then touching your mouth or nose.

What is the difference between seasonal flu and H1N1?

To date, the symptoms of H1N1 and seasonal flu are similar. But H1N1 seems to be affecting different groups than the seasonal flu typically does.

Seasonal flu viruses have been circulating in human populations for a long time, allowing people to build immunities to them. Most people do not yet have immunity to the new strain of H1N1 flu.

With seasonal flu, we know that seasons vary in terms of timing, duration and severity. Seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Each year in the United States, on average, 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 are children younger than 5 years old. Over 90 percent of deaths and about 60 percent of hospitalization occur in people older than 65.

When the H1N1 outbreak first occurred in mid-April 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began working with states to collect, compile and analyze information, including the numbers of confirmed and probable cases and the ages of the people affected. The resulting data analysis supports the conclusion that the H1N1 flu has caused a greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than it has in older people.

One thing that appears to be different from seasonal influenza is that adults older than 64 years do not yet appear to be at increased risk of 2009 H1N1-related complications thus far. Few cases of H1N1 have been reported in people older than 64 years old. This population has also experienced few deaths attributable to H1N1, which is unusual when compared with seasonal flu.

Pregnancy and other previously recognized high-risk medical conditions appear to be associated with an increased risk of complications from H1N1.

How serious is H1N1 Influenza vs. Seasonal Influenza?

The concern about H1N1 is that it is a "new" virus, so most people have not developed any degree of immunity to it. As a result, the H1N1 virus has the potential to infect large numbers of people.

Like seasonal flu, H1N1 influenza has ranged from mild to severe. While the vast majority of people have experienced mild to moderate flu symptoms and recovered without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from H1N1 infection have occurred.

About 70 percent of people who have been hospitalized with H1N1 also had medical conditions that cause an increased risk of serious seasonal flu-related complications such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and asthma.

If you have severe symptoms or an underlying health condition that places you at increased risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or otherwise seek medical care.

Who is at risk for complications from the flu?

The following groups of people are at greater risk of complications from H1N1 and seasonal flu and should seek medical care if they develop flu symptoms. Students in any of these higher-risk groups who develop flu symptoms can call the University Health Services (UHS) 24-Hour Nurse Advice Line at (512) 475-6877.

I have flu symptoms. What should I do?

The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications. Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from making them sick.

What over-the-counter medications will help my flu symptoms?

What should I do if my symptoms worsen?

What warning signs require emergency medical care?

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

What are the tests for the influenza virus?

NOTE — CDC has determined that testing for H1N1 is no longer necessary.

Are there medications to treat H1N1 and/or seasonal flu?

Yes. The CDC recommends the antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) to treat H1N1 and certain strains of seasonal flu, but only for severely ill (hospitalized) patients and for people with the flu who also have a condition such as a chronic illness or compromised immune system that places them at high risk for serious flu-related complications.

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight the flu by keeping the viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration that you are sick by one or two days. Antiviral drugs must be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective.

Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are not a substitute for vaccination. In fact, the CDC discourages the use of antiviral medications to prevent infection in healthy children and adults who might be exposed to the flu. Overuse of these antiviral drugs increases the chance that H1N1 will become resistant to them like some strains of seasonal flu already have. In that case, these medications would no longer benefit those who really need them.

Antibiotics are not effective against any kind of flu. However, a healthcare provider may prescribe them if the patient develops a secondary bacterial infection.

Can I get Tamiflu at UHS?

Maybe. In accordance with guidelines issued by the CDC and DSHS, UHS will prescribe antiviral medications only under certain conditions:

In both cases, antiviral drugs must be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective. UHS will prescribe antiviral medications only under these conditions.

How long is someone with the flu contagious?

The CDC recommends that people with the flu stay at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

People infected with seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu may be able to infect others from the day before they start showing symptoms until up to seven days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and in people infected with the H1N1 virus. Many people with the flu will continue to be contagious (shedding influenza virus) 24 hours after their fever goes away, but at lower levels than during their fever. Shedding of influenza virus can be detected for 10 days or more in some cases. That’s why washing/sanitizing hands and covering coughs and sneezes are so important even when you feel well.

How can I avoid getting the flu?

Viruses that cause influenza and the common cold are spread from person to person mainly when someone with a cold or the flu coughs or sneezes. You can be infected by inhaling the viruses in droplets from the sneeze or cough or by touching a surface or an object with viruses on it (like a desk, doorknob or keyboard) and then touching your mouth or nose.

How to avoid getting a cold or the flu:

Is there a proper way to wash your hands?

One of the most important things you can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others is to keep your hands clean. When you don’t have access to soap and water, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers quickly and significantly reduce the number of germs on skin.

Cold water may reduce the lathering of soap, and excessively hot water dries the skin, so use warm water if possible. If you only have access to cold water, take time to create a sufficient lather. The most important thing is to wash for at least 20 seconds, so aim for a comfortable water temperature so you don’t feel rushed.

View a Video on Proper Hand washing Techniques from the CDC

Is there a proper way to cover your cough/sneeze?

Coughing and sneezing propel the respiratory droplets several feet and lead to a greater dissemination of the virus. While using a tissue helps, you need to dispose of the tissue immediately to avoid leaving droplets on your hands. Coughing or sneezing into material helps to minimize this. The most easily accessible site is your sleeve. Crossing your arm across your face to be able to use your elbow or upper sleeve is ideal.

Should I wear a mask to avoid getting the flu?

The CDC has an excellent Web page that discusses the merits of masks for H1N1.

What types of flu vaccines are being given this fall?

Where and when can I get a seasonal flu shot?

University Health Services will UHS will begin providing seasonal (not H1N1) flu shots to students, faculty and staff on Oct. 6 at various sites across campus. The schedule will be followed as long as vaccine supplies last. Visit the UHS flu shot schedule for details.

If I get the seasonal flu shot now, how long until it takes effect and will it protect me until the end of this flu season?

Public health officials are recommending that people get their seasonal flu shot early this year. While seasonal flu typically does not peak until early in the spring semester, there are indications that seasonal flu will start circulating early this year. It takes up to two weeks for protection to develop after the seasonal flu shot. Protection lasts up to a year.

Why doesn’t the university offer seasonal flu shots sooner than Oct. 6?

Because of the large scale of the annual UHS seasonal flu shot campaign, in which about 12,000 students, faculty and staff are immunized at sites across campus, planning is done well in advance. The start date of the 2009 campaign was moved up significantly, but also scheduled in consideration of the promised delivery date of all the vaccine.

When can I get the H1N1 vaccination?

The H1N1 vaccine was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in late September 2009 and is expected to be available to the public later this fall. More specific dates cannot be provided at this time because vaccine availability depends on several factors, such as clinical trials and manufacturing time.

UHS has requested H1N1 vaccine for our campus, but the details regarding the amount of vaccine we will receive, the delivery date and how, when and where it will be distributed are not yet available. Please check the UHS Web site periodically for updates.

Students will be the top priority group to receive the H1N1 vaccine, but we hope to make it available to all faculty and staff who want it. UHS will offer the H1N1 vaccine in our clinics for high-risk students as soon as we receive it.

Who should get the H1N1 vaccine?

The CDC recommends that certain groups of the population get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available. These target groups include:

Recommendations for prioritizing who should get the vaccine could change depending on vaccine availability and demand.

How many doses of H1N1 vaccine will I need?

According to the CDC, people 10 years of age and older should get one dose of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Dosing schedules for children have not been determined, but should be available soon.

Will the seasonal flu vaccine also protect against the H1N1 flu?

No. This year, there are two separate vaccines: one for seasonal flu and one for H1N1. The two vaccines are manufactured in the same way, but the H1N1 vaccine protects only against H1N1 influenza, and the seasonal flu vaccine protects only against seasonal influenza.

For maximum protection against both H1N1 and seasonal flu, get both flu vaccines and practice preventative measures. See PREVENTING THE FLU.

I was vaccinated against the 1976 swine flu. Do I need to get the H1N1 vaccine this year?

Yes. The 1976 swine flu virus and the 2009 H1N1 virus are different enough that it’s unlikely a person vaccinated in 1976 will have full protection from the 2009 H1N1. Even if you were vaccinated in 1976, you should still get the H1N1 vaccine in 2009.

I already had the flu. Should I get a flu shot?

That depends on when you had the flu and certain other factors.

Influenza circulating in the United States since May 2009 has been almost exclusively the H1N1 virus. So even if you had the flu (or you think you had the flu) during that time, you should still get a seasonal flu shot to protect against the 2009-10 strains of the seasonal flu, especially if you are at higher risk of complications from the flu.

The CDC has not yet issued guidelines about whether a person who has had influenza-like illness since May ’09 should receive the H1N1 vaccine. We will update this question as soon as we know.

Will either the seasonal or H1N1 flu shot make me sick?

The viruses in both vaccines are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:

If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. Almost everyone who gets a flu shot experiences no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.

The CDC has more information about the seasonal flu shot (PDF)

Can I get the live flu vaccine nasal spray at UHS?

No. Due to the expense and the restrictions on its use, UHS does not provide the live seasonal influenza vaccine nasal spray.

If I am allergic to eggs, can I get either vaccine?

Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare, but are more likely to occur among people with a severe allergy to eggs because the viruses used in both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 vaccines are grown in hen’s eggs. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat or dizziness. If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous flu shot in the past, talk with a doctor before you get a flu shot.

If I am allergic to thimersol, can I get either vaccine?

Refer to the CDC for information about thimersol and the seasonal flu shot and thimersol and the H1N1 flu shot.

I’m pregnant — should I get these vaccines?

Yes, you should get both, but only in the form of the injection, not the nasal mist. CDC recommends these because a pregnant woman who gets any type of flu is at risk for serious complications and hospitalization. Pregnant women who are otherwise healthy have been severely affected by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (formerly called “novel H1N1 flu” or “swine flu”). In comparison to the general population, a greater proportion of pregnant women infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus have been hospitalized. In addition, severe illness and death has occurred in pregnant women. Six percent of confirmed fatal 2009 H1N1 flu cases thus far have been in pregnant women while only about 1 percent of the general population is pregnant. While hand washing, staying away from ill people and taking other steps can help to protect pregnant women from influenza, vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu.

How is UHS caring for students with the flu?

When is UHS open?

*Please note that we are experiencing a very large volume of calls related to influenza and the wait may be long.

What should I do when UHS is closed?

My roommate has the flu. What should I do?

When caring for someone in your household who is sick with the flu, protect yourself and others:

The CDD has more information about caring for someone with the flu (such as visitors, laundry and cleaning).

How are students who are ill supposed to “self-isolate”?

University residence halls ask their students to select a "buddy" who will assist them with necessary errands and obtain a carryout meal from dining services if they have flu symptoms, or have to self-isolate. Ill students may ask their buddies to pick up a “Sick Tray” form from the front desk in their residence hall. A buddy may assist a sick resident with completion of the form and use the sick resident’s ID to obtain meals from Department of Housing and Food Services (DHFS) dining. DHFS provides Sick Tray meals in disposable carryout containers for convenience. All resident hall students are encouraged to select a buddy and to share that name and contact information with their RA and roommate (if appropriate).

Will faculty excuse student absences?

Faculty should not require verification from students who were absent because of influenza-like illness. Parents and students may refer to information provided to the faculty in a memo from the provost.

Whom do students contact if they are concerned about how a flu absence will affect their academic status?

The Student Emergency Services staff in the Office of the Dean of Students works to assist students in emergency or crisis situations. Students may contact this office (512-471-5017) if they need assistance with academic issues during their illness.

Are there requirements or guidelines about H1N1 flu for students, faculty or staff who must travel abroad?

Students, faculty, and staff with questions about flu and travel should visit the Travel Management Web site.

What should I do if students tell me they missed a class or assignment because they were sick but cannot verify their illness?

Faculty should not require verification from students who were absent because of influenza-like illness. University Health Services (UHS) is advising students who are sick with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate – stay in their resident hall rooms or apartments and not come to class until they are fever-free for 24 hours without having taken fever medication. Students are instructed not to come in to UHS unless they have some other underlying health condition. Consequently, most students who are ill will not be able to verify their illness. It is important for faculty to reinforce the message to their students that they should not come to class if they are sick.

Many students have been absent from my class and I hear a lot of them are sick with the flu. What should I do about that?

To the degree that it is possible, please post your class lecture notes and assignments on Blackboard to make them accessible to students who are unable to come to campus due to illness. If you take attendance in your class and notice a large number of absences you believe are illness related, please report this to Campus Safety and Security. If there are a large number of absences and you believe it is affecting the ability of many students to progress successfully through your course, please discuss the situation with your dean or department chair. You and your chair would evaluate options for holding make-up classes or exams in order to allow returning students to successfully complete the course.

I am worried my students will make me ill. What can I do to protect myself?

The best advice for avoiding the flu is to frequently wash your hands. If you are concerned about ill students coming to your office hours, you may want to keep a can of spray disinfectant handy to use on chairs and doorknobs. You may also want to keep masks (available at local pharmacies) on hand to offer to your office visitors. It is important to communicate to your students that they should avoid attending class or coming to office hours if they are ill.

Immediate family members and I were ill with flu-like symptoms. What type of leave do I use for this period if I missed work?

You would use your accrued sick leave.

Immediate family members and I were ill with flu-like symptoms and I have no sick leave to cover missed work time. What do I do?

You would use your other available paid leave, such as annual leave or state or federal compensatory time, to cover the days you were absent.

I do not have any type of accrued leave and I am sick with the H1N1 virus. What type of leave do I use?

You may make a request for paid leave from the Sick Leave Pool.

Do I need a doctor’s excuse if I am out for more than three days with seasonal flu or H1N1?

Your supervisor may require a written statement from you OR a doctor if you are absent for work for more than three days.

If I am required to stay home for 24 hours after my fever breaks, may I work from home that day?

Yes, if your supervisor has approved. For situations where telecommuting is in place as a result of flu, the telecommuting policy will be temporarily suspended.

Are there special instructions for completing my timesheet if I’ve had the flu?

Refer to Human Resource Services Timesheet Questions and Answers.

When should I go to a doctor or clinic for treatment?

Once you experience flu-like symptoms, you should call your primary physician or health clinic for advice prior to going to work or to the doctor’s office or clinic.

When should I not come to work if I am experiencing seasonal flu or H1N1?

Whenever you have flu-like symptoms, especially fever, sore throat and coughing and when you have spoken with your doctor or clinic and have been told not to go to work.

Should I get vaccinated?

The university is encouraging everyone to get seasonal and H1N1 flu shots when they come available. Staff should be sure to seek the advice of a doctor or nurse before receiving the vaccinations. UHS sponsors Flu Shot Clinics that will start Oct. 6. Go to the UHS website for specific information.

Is cold water adequate for hand washing?

Cold water is considered effective if the soap is soluble in cold water. Tepid or warm water is recommended by the CDC. cold water is also acceptable if the soap used mixes well with cold water. Warm water does have the advantage of removing oils from the hand and making soap more soluble while excessively hot water is harder on the skin, dries the skin and is too uncomfortable to wash for the recommended amount of time.

For more information see Clean Hands (CDC) and Handwashing (Texas DSHS)

Are some hand sanitizers better than others?

Yes. Hand sanitizers should contain at least 60 percent alcohol. Some brands contain less.

Are there any hazards associated with hand sanitizers?

Yes. Hand sanitizer contains alcohols, which can be flammable until the alcohol evaporates. Hand sanitizers can also contain isopropyl alcohol, which can be poisonous. Parents should monitor their children when giving them hand sanitizers.

Does the university provide hand sanitizers?

The university is installing several hundred hand sanitizer dispensers in public areas on campus. Departments that would like hand sanitizer in their offices will need to purchase it directly.

Do I need to disinfect my workspace?

Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces can be an effective method in reducing the spread of influenza by touch.

How do I disinfect my workspace?

Disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as:


Updated 25 May 2010

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