May 20, 2009
Dear Members of the Brown Community,
With Commencement and Reunion events approaching this weekend, we are writing to remind community members of appropriate health and safety measures with regard to preventing the spread of illness, including influenza, as we continue to monitor H1N1 influenza local and national developments. The most important thing Brown community members, and our guests arriving on campus this weekend, 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 and staying home if you are sick. We will be deploying sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas and spaces where events will be taking place this weekend to make hand-washing easier. Information about these steps, and guidance for community members and guests attending Commencement and Reunion events, is listed below and on the Commencement website at brown.edu/web/commencement/2009/info/h1n1. Prior communications and links to websites such as RIDOH and the Centers for Disease Control remain online at emergency.brown.edu.
We have been notified by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) of one Brown student with a laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 influenza. This individual was likely exposed to H1N1 in New York, is recovering well, and none of the individual’s close contacts are sick. RIDOH has advised us that there is no need to take any special precautions with respect to the patient other than the standard treatment precautions which have already been taken, and indicated there is no need to change any of our operations with regard to Commencement and Reunion events this weekend.
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.
Russell C. Carey
Chief Risk Officer
Senior Vice President
Corporation Affairs and Governance
Campus Life and Student Services
Commencement/Reunion Information: H1N1
Brown continues to closely monitor the H1N1 influenza and follow recommendations and guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).
At present, the CDC and RIDOH do not recommend that institutions cancel large gatherings.
Given what the CDC and RIDOH do know about the spread of H1N1 influenza, and to help prevent spread of the disease, the agencies suggest that persons with influenza like illness (ILI) should stay at home and not attend large gatherings. Persons who are sick should limit their contact with other people and stay home from work, school or events.
Some specific recommendations include:
- Visitors to campus who become sick with ILI while traveling, or after they arrive at Brown should self-isolate (i.e., stay away from others) and contact their health care provider to report the illness.
- Persons at high risk of complications from H1N1 influenza infection should consider their risk of exposure if they attend public gatherings in communities where H1N1 influenza is circulating. Persons considered at high risk include those: with certain chronic medical conditions; less than 5 years old; 65 years or older; pregnant women.
- Students with ILI should self-isolate (i.e., stay away from others) and seek medical care by contacting Health Services at 863-1330 or by email before seeking care.
Recommended protection steps include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the used tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you are symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.