May 3, 2009

Information for the Brown Community Regarding Influenza A (H1N1)

May 3, 2009  |  Media Contact: Mark Nickel |  401-863-1638
Rhode Island has its first laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 influenza, and three probable cases have been announced at Johnson and Wales University. There have been no confirmed or probable cases at Brown. State medical authorities say H1N1 influenza appears similar to seasonal influenza, relatively mild, and responsive to treatment when necessary. University administrators sent the following e-mail communication to the campus community today.

May 3, 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. As of this writing there are still no laboratory confirmed or probable cases of H1N1 at Brown. As you may have read in the news, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced over the weekend the first laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 in Rhode Island (a Westerly man who is doing well) as well as three probable cases among students at Johnson and Wales University. Johnson and Wales, out of an abundance of caution, canceled activities and classes on their Providence campus this weekend and tomorrow. As we communicated to you last Thursday, we continue to encourage members of the Brown community to remain aware of what is happening with regard to H1N1, and to practice preventive hygiene, but not to be alarmed.

We have been advised by state medical authorities that the cases they are seeing in Rhode Island are similar to seasonal influenza, relatively mild, and responsive to treatment when necessary. The focus of medical authorities is to monitor reports of illness, encourage individuals to take care of themselves and stay home from school or work if they are sick, and to take appropriate steps to mitigate the spread of infection when and where illness occurs.

Consistent with this approach and with the final examination period about to begin, medical authorities have advised us to allow for at least 3 feet of space between people in all final examination rooms. To accommodate this extra space, the Registrar is now relocating some exams and assigning others to more than one room. Further information for faculty and students, including information about where to look for revised exam locations, about this precautionary measure will be forthcoming from Dean Bergeron and the Registrar tomorrow (Monday, May 4). Students should check Banner and/or the Registrar’s Web site right up to the scheduled time for your exam(s) to confirm its location.

Students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms will be asked to stay away from examination rooms and to call University Health Services at 863-1330. Undergraduates who have appropriate documentation from Health Services may receive an exam excuse, which gives them the right to take a make-up exam at a later date. Deans Lassonde and McSharry are responsible for granting exam excuses for undergraduates.

Community members returning from geographic areas with confirmed cases of H1N1 (countries listed by the World Health Organization at: www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html, states listed by the Centers for Disease Control at: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/) can return to work, school, and other normal activities as long as they have no influenza-like symptoms. Individuals in this category with any of the symptoms described below should stay home or in their residence halls and contact University Health Services (students) or their physician (faculty or staff) for further guidance and treatment.

The most important thing Brown community members can do to prevent the spread of illness is to practice preventive behaviors, including frequent hand-washing with soap and water or use of hand sanitizer. Sanitizer stations are being deployed across the campus in high-traffic areas, such as dining halls, classroom and office buildings, libraries, and some other public spaces. Further information about preventive behaviors and what students, faculty, and staff should do if you are sick is 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 Rhode Island 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. Department heads, supervisors, and employees with questions about work related safety issues related to H1N1 can contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 863-3353 for guidance.

Sincerely,

Russell C. Carey
Chief Risk Officer
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.