Information About the H1N1 Virus and MICA's Preparations
As we head into the fall, the nation is preparing for widespread cases of the H1N1 influenza virus, otherwise known as "swine flu." As you have now probably heard, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that the virus has and will continue to cause a greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age compared to older age groups. In light of this information, MICA is acting strategically, taking steps to prepare for likely cases of the H1N1 virus on our campus. MICA is asking for everyone's help as we strive to minimize the spread of the virus and prepare for a challenging academic year.
Information about the H1N1 Virus
The H1N1 virus is very similar to the seasonal flu, with symptoms lasting for approximately seven days (on average) including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Complications from the H1N1 virus appear to be associated with pregnancy and other underlying, high risk medical conditions that include asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, neurocognitive conditions, and neuromuscular disorders.
The CDC advises several actions that can be used by individuals to help protect everyone's health. We will be sharing this information with students, staff, and faculty as the fall semester begins, and encourage you to educate yourself about using these strategies now and throughout the coming months:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
* wash your hands often with soap and water;
* use alcohol-based hand cleaners on a frequent basis;
* avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and
* clean common, hard surfaces frequently to lessen the chances of contracting or spreading viruses.
The CDC has also issued specific guidelines for college and universities, and will likely continue to provide updates within the next several weeks. MICA will be taking steps as we work with our community of students, faculty, and staff to help adhere to these guidelines, and we want you to be aware of them as it could impact you if you or a member of your household becomes ill with a likely case of the H1N1 virus:
* Faculty and staff who experience an influenza-like illness (ILI), or whose family member that lives with them experiences an ILI, should not come to work or campus; self-isolate (i.e., stay away from others) at home for at least 24 hours after any fever is gone. Exceptions include the need to get medical care or other necessities, such as medicine. Persons with ILI should stay away from others in order to stop the spread of the illness.
* Persons with ILI should contact their health provider by telephone or other remote means to report any illness before seeking care.
* Faculty and staff should report ILI to their supervisor immediately; supervisors should notify MICA's Human Resources staff immediately following the report of ILI or a diagnosis of H1N1. MICA Human Resources will work with the EHS Manager, the Emergency Action Plan Team, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to limit the spread of the virus within the MICA community.
* Persons with ILI should cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing if they must leave their residence. Masks will be made available upon request at residence hall and building desks.
* Faculty and staff who are out of work for more than three consecutive days are required to provide a statement from their doctor supporting their absence and releasing them to return to work.
*Questions can be directed to Human Resources at 410-225-2363.
What You Can Do To Prepare
Prepare your home with over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, anti-bacterial cleaners (such as Lysol), soups, tissues, and other related items. These items are useful in case of illness, and can prevent the need to go out in public while sick or contagious. Also, If you have any of the underlying medical conditions mentioned earlier, please contact your health care provider prior for recommendations on the upcoming semester.
You can find additional information on MICA's preparation for the H1N1 virus on the Campus Safety departmental Web pages.