Harvard University Health Services continues to monitor H1N1 flu activity nationwide and track H1N1 activity within the Harvard community. Public health officials expect the H1N1 influenza virus to spread widely in the United States during the next flu season. In light of this, HUHS is working closely with the University to educate the community about prevention measures as well as providing support in planning for increased incidence of H1N1 and flu-like illness. HUHS will continue to utilize guidelines and recommendations made through The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local Departments of Public Health.
The best way to stay healthy is to practice good hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer such as Purell. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use the crook of your arm when you cough or sneeze to protect others. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid spreading infection.
A vaccine specifically for H1N1 has been approved by the FDA. The Federal government has purchased all available doses and has been distributing the doses to the individual states. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is coordinating the release of the vaccine to various clinical sites. HUHS has begun to receive small amounts of vaccine and is using guidelines form the State Department of Public Health in prioritizing groups to be vaccinated.
Flu-like illness includes a fever greater than 100 degrees F (37.8 C), cough, sore throat, and body aches. If you develop these symptoms, HUHS recommends seeking medical attention.
HUHS will be updating this information regularly as new recommendations become available.
H1N1 INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS
What to do if you are ill with the flu
What to do if your roommate is ill
Information for parents
Information for health care students: medical and dental students
GENERAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT H1N1 INFLUENZA*
What is Novel H1N1 influenza?
This virus is a new influenza virus first identified in people in the United States in April 2009. The virus spreads easily from person to person, probably much in the same way the regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. The World Health Organization declared a world wide pandemic of this virus on June 11, 2009. Initially this virus was referred to as “swine flu”. However, further study has shown that this virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs.
What are the symptoms of H1N1 influenza in humans?
The symptoms of H1N1 influenza in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza. H1N1 flu symptoms always include
Fever (greater than 100 degrees F (37.8 C)
AND must include at least one of the following:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body aches
- Chills and fatigue
What should I do if I exhibit any flu-like symptoms?
If you have the symptoms described above, stay away from public places, and contact your health care provider. If you receive your care at HUHS or are a student, contact HUHS at 617-495-5711. If you have any medical condition that puts you at higher medical risk or have severe symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.
People at higher risk include the following:
- Pregnant women
- Children under age 5
- Adults and children with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiac disease
- Adults and children who are immunocompromised
- Health care workers and emergency medical personnel
How long does the illness usually last?
Based on severity, symptoms may last 5-7 days. This can be longer in some people who have other medical conditions. People infected with the virus may spread illness to others 1 day prior to getting sick.
How is H1N1 treated?
Most treatment advice for mild illness includes self care measures including increased fluids and fever reducing medications. For people with severe symptoms and those with underlying medical conditions, antiviral medications may be indicated. These medications are known to lessen the severity of the illness and can, in some cases, prevent greater complications from the illness in those with other conditions. Your clinician will advise you on treatment appropriate for you.
In addition, the current CDC recommendation is for those ill with influenza-like illness to stay away from crowds and public gatherings (self-isolate) up until 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications. If you are a student working in a health care environment, please click here for special instructions. If you are a student living in a residence hall, HUHS will work with you and the University to coordinate housing needs.
What should I do if I have been exposed to someone who has a confirmed or suspected case of influenza?
Health officials are recommending that persons living in close contact (e.g., roommates) with those who have the flu, monitor their personal health and be aware of any initial symptoms. It is important to practice preventive hygiene methods listed above if you have been in close contact with influenza. If you develop both a fever (temperature of greater than 100 degrees F) AND cough or sore throat, you should contact your primary care clinician.
May I attend classes or work if I have flu-like symptoms?
If you have had flu-like symptoms (as seen above), per the recommendations of the CDC, you should stay home and avoid close contact with others until 24 hours after your fever resolves without the use of fever reducing medications. Follow-up with HUHS or your health care provider if you are not feeling well, or have any other concerns.
What can I do to stay healthy?
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
If you get sick, make an appointment with your clinician.
Is Harvard planning to distribute facemasks or other personal protective equipment to members of the Harvard Community?
Following the advice of public health agencies, Harvard does not recommend the use of surgical masks, gloves, or other personal protective equipment for normal use by members of the Harvard community to control exposure.
Should I cancel or postpone my travel plans?
For the latest HUHS recommendations, refer to Travelers’ Health Information. Updated travel notices are available from the CDC at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/.
*Much of this information is taken directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website. For more information, visit:
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