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Student/Parent H1N1 FAQ

What is H1N1 influenza (formerly referred to as Swine Flu)?
H1N1 is an influenza (flu) virus first seen in the United States in April 2009. As health officials learn more about this flu virus, they continue to identify it more accurately. As a result, you may hear or see it called by different names, including "novel H1N1 influenza (flu) virus," "H1N1 influenza (flu) virus" or "novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection." These are all describing this same, newly seen influenza virus in people.

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What are the symptoms of H1N1 Flu?
Symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to the typical seasonal flu and include a fever of 100 degrees F or higher, cough or sore throat. In addition to these major symptoms, individuals may experience fatigue, headache, body aches, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

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What can UAlbany Parents do to support their student's health?

  1. Send a care package of personal health items. Items may include:
    • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain, fevers
    • Digital thermometer
    • Antacids and/or antidiarrheals for upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, etc.
    • Heating pad or instant hot packs
    • Cool mist humidifier for winter months
    • Hand sanitizer
  2. Be a messenger. Remind your student to practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  3. Stay informed. Visit the websites of the University Health Center, the University’s H1N1 website, and the Centers for Disease Control.

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What should students do if they have flu-like symptoms or are diagnosed with H1N1 flu?

  • If a student develops an influenza-like illness (ILI) or is diagnosed with H1N1 flu, he/she should self-isolate at home (leaving campus to return home is encouraged if private transportation is available) or in their residential hall space until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • Students with flu like illness should not walk in to the University Health Center for care. This will keep students with flu like illness away from students seeking care for other conditions. Review the advice on the University Health Center website and/or call the University Health Center with specific medical questions.
  • Students in a high risk group should contact the University Health Center at (518) 442-5229 to schedule an appointment. You should make it clear when calling that you are in a high risk group for influenza complications. 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 difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, if flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, should seek medical care. In an emergency, call 911.
  • To help prevent others they live with from becoming ill, ill students can wear a disposable facemask when close contact with other people in the home is unavoidable. Disposable facemasks can be purchased at pharmacies and medical supply, hardware or home improvement stores and may be labeled as surgical, dental, medical procedure, isolation or laser masks. Facemasks cover the nose and mouth and reduce the number of infectious droplets you may cough or sneeze into the air. Dispose of used facemasks in the trash and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub immediately after you remove a facemask.
  • Unless necessary for medical care, students should stay home. If they must be in a public place, they should protect others by wearing a facemask and make the time they spend in crowded settings as short as possible.
  • Rest, drink plenty of clear non-alcoholic fluids and take over-the-counter medications typically used to fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Students should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Promptly throw the tissue into the trash and wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid having visitors. If visitors must enter your home, they should avoid close contact with you.
  • Stay home, remain out of school, work, sports and community activities until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours with using fever reducing medicines. A fever is defined as 100ºF or 37.8ºC.
  • Upon returning to full activity follow all infection control strategies including covering your cough, frequent hand-washing, social distancing and not sharing personal care items.

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If you have flu symptoms, should you come to campus?
As with any seasonal flu or communicable disease, you should try to limit contact with others to contain the spread of the disease. It is best if you visit the University Health Center website for advice and remain at home until you are better and no longer infectious.

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What about classes and other academic obligations?
Evaluate your obligations for the next week and where necessary contact your instructors/employers directly to apprise them of your situation and to arrange an appropriate accommodation – e.g., accessing course material electronically, excused attendance, submitting papers or other coursework via email, re-scheduling a test, performing an alternative assignment, etc.

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If you are planning on traveling, are there any special precautions you should take?
Please refer to CDC’s website for "Outbreak Notice: Novel H1N1 Global Situation" at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/content/outbreak-notice/novel-h1n1-flu-global-situation.aspx.

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My roommate is sick with flu-like symptoms – What should I do?
A person with the flu is contagious (able to infect others) for 24 hours before symptoms of flu begin, so it is possible you have already been exposed. But to decrease further risk, consider following these precautions:

  • If at all possible, maintain a distance of 6 feet from your ill roommate. An uncovered cough can send the virus 3-6 feet away from the ill person.
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your nose, mouth, eyes.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (counters, faucets, doorknobs, etc.).
  • Encourage your roommate to follow the guidelines for self-care on the University Health Center website.
  • Having the ill person wear a facemask can decrease the chances of them spreading the virus to others.

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What information do you have regarding the H1N1 vaccine and the Seasonal Flu vaccine?
At this time, the H1N1 vaccine is in production and the University at Albany has been very fortunate to receive an adequate supply. The seasonal influenza vaccine does not provide protection against H1N1 flu. Once the vaccine is administered, an individual has immunity to the H1N1 virus within 8-10 days according to public health officials.

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What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and clean your hands immediately.
  • 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 that way.
  • Don’t share personal items.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  • Avoid getting close to people who are sick. Stay 6 feet away from a sick person.
  • Wash surfaces on your work space with a disinfectant daily.
  • Wipe down shared keyboards, and telephones often.
  • Sign up for SUNY NY Alert, if you have not done so, to receive emergency information on University closure or class cancellations.
  • Plan to get a flu shot this fall either on campus or at your doctor’s office.

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Does the University Health Center write medical notes for students who miss class?
The CDC asks that course instructors not require medical documentation to validate a student’s illness or to return to work, as doctor’s offices and medical facilities (including the University Health Center) will be extremely busy and will not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way. This echoes the existing medical excuse policy: http://www.albany.edu/health_center/policies/medicalexcuse.htm.

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Will the University Health Center call parents if a student has a flu-like illness, or confirmed case of H1N1?
the University Health Center cannot share medical information with parents of students 18 years of age or older unless authorized by the student to do so. If the student is under 18 years old, the parent will be notified by the student (if possible) or by the treating facility.

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Will the college notify parents and students when cases of H1N1 flu appear on campus?
The University Health Center will have flu information on the University Health Center web site as well as the University’s H1N1 website to update the campus on issues related to flu.

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How will students be notified if classes are cancelled, the University closes or other emergency information?

  • Students are advised to check the University’s web site regularly.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for SUNY NY Alert for immediate notifications in emergencies or unique situations.
  • The University’s snow emergency line (518-442-SNOW) will be updated to announce University closures.

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What if I am studying abroad?
The Office of International Education assists students who participate in University at Albany sponsored travel abroad programs. The Office also maintains records of each student’s location of travel and a way to communicate with him/her while abroad. Staff from the Office of International Education monitor the health and safety situation in the areas in which the students are living, and are prepared to contact the students and offer assistance should any emergency arise. Emergency information for students studying abroad can be found at: http://www.albany.edu/studyabroad/emergencies.html.

Students who are participating in a University-sponsored travel abroad program should maintain regular contact with the Office of International Education and register with the U.S. Embassy in the country of study. These students are also asked to remain vigilant regarding the H1N1 virus in the location in which they are studying, and to inform the Office of International Education of any concerns.

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