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2009 News Releases

Longwood health officials prepare for H1N1 virus

August 17, 2009

Caduceus

Longwood University health and safety officials are reviewing campus emergency operations plans and developing a series of educational materials about the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in preparation for the return of students on August 20.

When students arrive, they will notice a variety of educational materials designed to encourage basic hygiene measures as well as provide information on the H1N1 virus. Posters, bookmarks, and table tent cards, all featuring the message "The Flu & You," will be placed in campus buildings, including residence halls. The materials stress good hygiene habits, offer a variety of tips for staying healthy, and list the symptoms of the flu and what a person should do if they think they have the flu. In addition to the printed materials, public service announcements will be sent to campus media outlets and email messages will be sent to students, faculty, and staff.

"Everyone needs to understand that the preventative measures we are promoting are nothing new," said Margo Potts, FNP, director of student health. "Everyone should wash their hands, cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, and stay home when they are sick."

As a convenience to faculty, staff, and students, wall-mounted dispensers of hand sanitizer are being placed in high-traffic areas. The dispensers have been in place for some time in Dorrill Dining Hall and the Health and Fitness Center. Hand sanitizers are an approved alternative to traditional soap and water hand washing.

Student Health officials advise anyone with flu-like symptoms to contact their health care provider as soon as symptoms develop.  "We will evaluate students who come to the Student Health Center, but we will not be evaluating and treating individuals over the phone," said Potts. Due to issues with testing, current recommendations advise treating and implementing measures to control infection based on clinical symptoms.

"At this point, those who are ill and are diagnosed with flu-like symptoms may be treated and will be advised to leave campus and go home. The Student Health Center will evaluate and treat individuals based on a clinical diagnosis and will not be testing. However, the plan may change depending on recommendations from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH)," said Potts.

Potts recommends that everyone who can should get the seasonal flu vaccine. "We will have the seasonal flu vaccine available to students after fall break in mid-October," said Potts.  The flu vaccine is made available to students free of charge thanks to Longwood's Student Health Partners with funding from the Student Government Association (SGA), which also funds cold kits. Cold kits contain a variety of self-care items that are effective at treating and preventing the spread of respiratory infections. More than 1,000 cold kits are assembled and distributed each year.

"Longwood students should be commended for their support of campus wellness initiatives," said Potts. "It is unique that Longwood's SGA funds the flu clinic and I think the success of the clinic is due to the emphasis that Longwood places on student wellness. In 2008-09, nearly 1,000 doses of the flu vaccine were administered to students. As a result, the occurrence of seasonal flu on campus last year was greatly diminished. I expect this year the number of students electing to get the free flu shots will be even greater."

"The flu clinic times are posted on the Student Health Center website.  If the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine is available to us we will arrange to administer that vaccine as well.  There should be no cost for the vaccine and it may be available to the entire Longwood community including faculty and staff," said Potts.

Longwood students, faculty, and staff, as well as parents of current students, are being directed to the Student Health Center website for the most current information about the H1N1 virus and how the campus community is responding. Additional information about the H1N1 (swine) flu virus is also available at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/