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August 11th, 2009

TO:    UAlbany Campus Community
FROM:    Peter Vellis, DO
   Director, University Health Center
RE:    H1N1 Planning

Since the onset of the H1N1 virus last spring, the University has been closely monitoring the reports of human cases of H1N1 throughout the world. Since the University’s initial planning this spring, the H1N1 virus has been identified in Albany County according to the Albany County Department of Health. The University Health Center will continue to work with federal, state and local public health agencies to provide the most current guidance in addressing this public health issue for our campus community.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been monitoring the spread of H1N1 and raised the current pandemic alert level to Phase 6. Please note, however, that the WHO pandemic alert level refers to how widespread this virus is and does not reflect disease severity.

Health authorities anticipate another wave of H1N1 sometime this fall. Be aware that according to health care experts, some groups are at a greater risk of developing severe complications if they contract H1N1. Those high risk groups include: pregnant women and those with respiratory disease (asthma, COPD), heart disease, diabetes, renal disease, morbid obesity or who have compromised immune systems. Students who develop a respiratory illness with a fever and are in one of these high risk groups for severe complications from H1N1 should contact the University Health Center at 518-442-5229 to schedule an appointment. Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider. Please make it clear when calling that you are in a high risk group for influenza complications.

If you are not considered to be at a greater risk of developing complications from possible H1N1 and develop flu like symptoms (i.e.: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and possibly diarrhea and vomiting), you should separate yourself from others as best as possible for at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever (i.e.: chills, sweats) without the use of fever-reducing medications.

While there is no vaccine currently available to protect against H1N1, a vaccine is being developed and should it become available to us, I will notify the campus community. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
  • Cleaning your hands often;
  • Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
  • Visiting the University Health Center web site for frequently asked questions (FAQs) at: http://www.albany.edu/health_center/swineflu.htm#FAQ.

Since late last spring, the University’s Pandemic Planning Committee, with representatives from key offices and departments on campus, has been actively working to coordinate a multi-phased response to H1N1. The University’s response establishes a progressive approach to reducing campus activities if the risk level to the campus community increases. This risk level is based on two factors, infectivity rate and severity rate. Currently, UAlbany operations will continue as normal based on these two risk factors.

I will update you when additional information becomes available. If you have any questions, please send them to askUHC@uamail.albany.edu.