The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to report the H1N1 virus spreading across the world. By definition we remain in a level six pandemic situation. However, it is important to note that a level six definition is based solely on the geographical distribution of the outbreak. It does not have any relationship to the severity of the virus.
According to the WHO website, “The Northern Hemisphere is experiencing continued spread of the virus but declining activity is being observed in areas affected early in the course of the pandemic. As the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus is now the dominant strain in most areas of the world, it can be expected to persist into the coming influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere.”
Closer to home the state reported to the Centers for Disease Control that New Hampshire is experiencing “sporadic influenza activity” at present.
At Plymouth State, work continued throughout the summer to make sure that the University is properly prepared to deal with the virus should it appear on our campus this fall. University officials continue to work closely with the Greater Plymouth Public Health Network. The Greater Plymouth Public Health Network serves the University, along with the communities of Plymouth, Ashland, Campton, Thornton, Waterville, Ellsworth, Rumney, Wentworth, Warren and Holderness. A representative from PSU has an active role on the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), which helps to oversee the activities within this region.
At this time, the Public Health Network’s activities have been centered around the potential return of H1N1 this fall and the development of a vaccine for the virus. Those planning efforts were reviewed at a regional tabletop exercise held on the campus at the end of August. The exercise was directed by the New England Center for Emergency Preparedness (NECEP) in conjunction with Dartmouth School of Medicine. The RCC, along with the Public Health Network Coordinator are monitoring guidance from the state on a regular basis to ensure our plans are as up to date as possible and that the region will be prepared to respond properly.
The University’s goal is to provide services to ill students, as needed, without compromising the health of others who may share the same residence hall or home.
A vaccine for the H1N1 virus is now in production and clinical trials have begun both here and abroad. The CDC is anticipating releasing the vaccine in October. At this time it is not known how or exactly when any of the vaccines will be released, how many will be released or if we will be expected to open mass vaccination clinics on campus. Until then, University officials will continue to work with the Public Health Network, neighboring towns and state and federal health officials to insure that PSU is ready to deal with whatever situation may arise.
If a case of the H1N1 virus is confirmed on the campus, University officials will work directly with health care providers and state public health officials to determine the best course of action. The University’s response will depend on many factors, like whether the affected individual is a student or staff member, whether they live on or off campus. The offices of Residential Life, Environmental Health & Safety and Student Affairs are working together to finalize plans for providing assistance to students who are infected with the H1N1 virus and cannot recuperate at home.
NH Health officials indicate that symptoms of the H1N1 flu are similar to seasonal influenza, and include fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache and muscle aches, and fatigue. In some cases, patients also experience diarrhea and vomiting. If you believe you are suffering from flu symptoms, you are urged to phone your health care provider. They will discuss your situation and work with you to decide the best course of action for treatment or testing, if warranted.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – use your sleeve
- Only use your own glass and utensils – don’t share
- Use soap and warm water to wash hands often
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet
- Home is where you belong when you’re sick, not at work or school
Continue to do all you can to stay health by following the NH DHHS C.O.U.G.H. protocol.
- Additional H1N1 information is available online:
- NH Department of Health and Human Service
- Centers for Disease Control
- CDC: Taking care of a sick person in your home
- World Health Organization
For more information regarding PSU’s H1N1 preparedness contact Tammy Hill, PSU Manager of Environmental Health and Safety at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please direct media queries to Bruce Lyndes, Media Relations Manager at email@example.com