April 30, 2009

Information on Influenza A (H1N1) for the Brown Community

April 30, 2009  |  Media Contact: Mark Nickel |  401-863-1638
There have been no suspected or confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) at the University. The World Health Organization has increased the level of its influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5, however. University administrators sent the following e-mail communication to the campus community today.

April 30, 2009

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

We are writing to provide you with an update on the current information we have and our planning and preparedness regarding the evolving H1N1 influenza outbreak. Late yesterday afternoon the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. In doing so the Director-General indicated that all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, 30 April 2009, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated the status in the United States to 109 laboratory confirmed cases in 11 states, including two in Massachusetts. There has been one confirmed death related to H1N1 in Texas of a 23-month-old child who had traveled to the United States from Mexico. The two cases in Massachusetts also involve children who recently traveled to Mexico. As of this writing there are no confirmed cases in Rhode Island, although three probable cases are currently being tested by the CDC. A North Kingstown Rhode Island high school student who visited Mexico recently is among those three currently being tested and monitored for a potential case of H1N1 influenza, and the Governor has directed that the school be closed for the rest of the week out of an ‘abundance of caution.’

There are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza at Brown. We are engaged in monitoring, preparedness, preventive measures, and planning as a matter of prudence and caution at this stage. We encourage members of the community to remain aware of what is happening with regard to H1N1, to practice preventive hygiene, but not to be overly alarmed.

The University’s task force on H1N1 influenza, including medical experts from campus and Rhode Island Hospital, has been meeting regularly this week and members are constantly monitoring the latest information and guidance from state and federal agencies. The University has also been in contact with students studying abroad in affected countries. We continue to encourage any community members with travel plans to consult the latest travel advisories from the CDC at: www.cdc.gov/travel.

We are monitoring events and information closely and we are taking appropriate and necessary precautions. We will continue to monitor occurrences of illness, as well as reinforce the importance of preventive behaviors.

Toward that end, we will be deploying additional hand sanitizer stations across the campus over the next several days in high-traffic areas, such as dining halls, classroom and office buildings, libraries, and other public spaces. Personal prevention and hygiene continues to be the most effective health and safety measure individuals can take. Those steps and information about what students, faculty, and staff should do if you are sick are listed below.

The University’s emergency information Web page now provides easy access to the latest information we have available, including links to Web sites at the CDC, the World Health Organization and the R.I. Department of Health. Links to this and future updates will be posted at the emergency information site: emergency.brown.edu.

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.

We recognize the current health alert may cause anxiety or concern for oneself or friends and family members. Support services are available to students from the deans in Student Life (863-3145, 20 Benevolent Street) or in the Office of the Dean of the College (863-2573, 2nd floor University Hall). There are drop-in hours in both offices between 9-5. If you need to speak with someone in the evening or on weekends, you may reach the Administrator-on-call at 863-3322. Finally, if you would benefit from speaking with someone at Psychological Services, you may call 863-3476 for an appointment.

Sincerely,

Russell C. Carey
Chief Risk Officer
Senior Vice President
Corporation Affairs and Governance

Margaret Klawunn
Vice President
Campus Life and Student Services

 

Health and Safety Preventive Measures

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.

What You Should Do If You 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.

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.