April 27, 2009

Information for the Brown Community Regarding Influenza A (H1N1)

April 27, 2009  |  Media Contact: Mark Nickel |  401-863-1638
In an e-mail to the campus community today, senior administrators at Brown University provided faculty, students and staff with information about swine flu and health measure they should take. The text of the e-mail, sent by Russell C. Carey, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and governance, and Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, follows here.

April 27, 2009

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

We are writing with important information for members of the Brown community regarding Swine Influenza A (H1N1) and steps the University is taking to prepare for the possibility of the swine flu affecting our community.

As you are likely aware from recent media coverage, federal and state efforts to develop plans to deal with a possible swine flu outbreak are ongoing. We have organized a task force to monitor the flu situation and to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to protect the health of our campus community. That task force is in regular contact with the Rhode Island Department of Health, with faculty from the Brown Medical School, and with leadership from Brown University Health Services. We will keep you advised of updates as they become available via the Brown University Web site, e-mails and relevant postings.

Community members who traveled to Mexico during spring break (March 21- 29, 2009) are beyond the incubation period for contracting swine flu in Mexico.

1. What is Swine Influenza A (swine flu)?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human to human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.

2. Current Situation

As of April 27 human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in California, Texas, New York City, Kansas and Ohio. This strain of influenza virus is unique because it is a combination of genes from swine, bird, and human influenza viruses. Infected individuals report flu-like symptoms of fever, aches and pains, sore throats, coughing and trouble breathing. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting. These cases may be linked to an outbreak of influenza-like illness in Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state public and animal health authorities are still in the early stages of the investigations. Further updates to the US investigation and any related travel recommendations will be posted on www.cdc.gov/travel when available. Brown community members with travel plans are strongly encouraged to check this site for the latest travel information and guidance.

3. How does swine flu spread?

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

4. What can you do to stay healthy?

There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue is not available, cough into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Wash hands before eating.

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, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

5. Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products.

6. What should I do if I get sick?

Students:

Brown students with respiratory symptoms (fever, body aches, sore throats, headaches, cough) who have traveled to New York City, San Diego County, CA, Imperial County, CA, San Antonio, TX, or Mexico within the past 7 to 10 days should immediately call University Health Services (UHS) at 863-1330.

Any other students with significant respiratory symptoms (fever, body aches, sore throats, headaches, cough or trouble breathing) should also call UHS at 863-1330.

If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

University Health Services will be screening patients for swine flu based on recommendations of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Faculty and Staff:

Brown faculty and staff with respiratory symptoms (fever, body aches, sore throats, headaches, cough or trouble breathing) who have traveled to New York City, San Diego County, CA, Imperial County, CA, San Antonio, TX, or Mexico within the past 7 to 10 days should immediately contact their primary care physician.

If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

7. Where to find information

On all questions related to an influenza threat, the University will be guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Rhode Island Department of Health. We recommend that you visit the CDC's Web site (http://www.cdc.gov), bookmark it in your Web browser, and refer to it whenever you have a question. The site is clear, authoritative, comprehensive and current.

Information is also available on the official U.S. government Web site for information on pandemic flu and the Rhode Island Department of Health Web site: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/ and 5http://www.health.state.ri.us

8. Travel Suggestions

Please refer to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/travel for current travel recommendations. Brown community members with travel plans are strongly encouraged to check this site for the latest travel information and guidance.

9. Questions

If you have any questions regarding appropriate precautions, faculty and staff should consult their physician and students should call University Health Services at 863-1330. Future updates, as appropriate, will be posted on the web at:
www.brown.edu/Administration/EHS/emergency_preparedness/

Sincerely,

Russell C. Carey
Senior Vice President
Corporation Affairs and Governance

Margaret Klawunn
Vice President
Campus Life and Student Services

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.