H1N1 Influenza / Swine Flu Information

Student Health Center

Frequently Asked Questions: H1N1 at Hamilton

Q. When was the first case of H1N1 on the Hamilton campus?
A. Beginning Monday, Oct. 26, the College has experienced a large influx of students presenting symptoms consistent with the H1N1 virus. The first test that was positive for Influenza A (which is most likely H1N1) was from a student who visited the Health Center that day.
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Q. How widespread is the outbreak on campus?
A. As of Thursday, Oct. 29, approximately 10-20 percent of the student population is currently experiencing influenza-like illness. This percentage is consistent with what is being reported elsewhere in the region.
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Q. Is the Health Center testing for the H1N1 virus? And if not, how is the diagnosis being made?
A. Due to the extent of the outbreak in the region, H1N1-specific testing is not recommended. Diagnoses are being made clinically based on a review of the patient and the symptoms present. Treatment protocols are similar for H1N1 and seasonal flu, however, and each patient is prescribed an individual regimen specific to their symptoms.
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Q. What are the symptoms of H1N1?
A. H1N1 symptoms typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. Nearly all of the cases seen thus far at Hamilton have been mild.
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Q. What should students do if they suspect they have the H1N1 virus?
A. Call the Health Center (315-859-4111). Students with underlying health issues should contact the Health Center immediately at the first sign of any symptoms. After hours, please call Campus Safety (315-859-4000) for HCEMS (Hamilton College Emergency Medical Services).
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Q. Is the College isolating students with the H1N1 virus?

A. Early directives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said students with H1N1 should be isolated from the rest of the campus population. That is no longer the CDC's recommendation. Students with the virus are advised to go home if that's possible, or return to their residence hall room where they should practice social distancing (i.e., stay at least six feet away from roommates and other people where possible). They may not attend class, visit the dining halls or attend public events until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
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Q. How will students diagnosed with H1N1 get meals?

A. Bon Appetit has healthy and nutritious food available at every meal to take back to the student's residence hall room. A roommate or friend simply needs to talk with a manager or checker to pick up the food (you will need to show your Hill Card, but not the Hill Card of the sick student). On the weekends, takeout food for sick students is available at Commons Dining Hall. During the week, food for sick students can be picked up at Commons, McEwen or the Diner.
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Q. How long should students practice self-isolation by staying in their rooms?
A. Students may not resume their normal activities until at least 24 hours after they are fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol.
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Q. Will the Health Center contact my professor if I am diagnosed with H1N1 or influenza-like illness (ILI)?
A. No. The Health Center staff is currently focused on diagnosing and treating the large influx of patients with influenza-like illness on top of the other patients they see on a regular basis. Students who are diagnosed with ILI are not permitted to attend classes. They should e-mail their professors, who are aware of the outbreak on campus and are prepared to be flexible regarding course requirements. The Dean of Students Office will assist students should that be necessary, but students should contact their professors first.
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Q. Why are students with the H1N1 virus or any ILI being permitted to return to their residence hall rooms if they have roommates who are healthy?
A. If possible, students diagnosed with ILI are advised to return home, but the CDC is no longer recommending that these students be physically isolated from the rest of the campus population. Such students are advised, however, to self-isolate and practice social distancing (i.e., stay at least six feet away from others where possible). Proper precautions such as frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve and not into one's hands will help limit the spread of the virus.
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Q. If a healthy student has a roommate with the H1N1 virus and the sick roommate cannot return home, should the healthy roommate find another place to live on campus?
A. Such a move is not recommended by the CDC. Students who appear healthy can still have the virus before they exhibit symptoms. Moving to another residence has the potential of exposing others. It is important for all students to get plenty of rest, especially if their immune systems are under stress, so for this reason it is a good idea to sleep in your own bed. Chances of contracting the virus can be minimized if you follow the measures defined by the CDC. These include washing your hands often with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water is not available, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth since this is how germs spread. Cleaning shared surfaces such as doorknobs and computer keyboards with an alcohol-based disinfectant is also a good idea. Do not share glassware, beverages, or cooking and eating utensils.
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Q. What is the College doing to control the spread of the H1N1 virus?
A. Hamilton is following the recommendations of the CDC and other health officials to both respond to the illness and take precautions to limit its spread. These include early and periodic reminders to the community about precautions students and employees can take to minimize their chances of contracting the virus, flu shot clinics for students and employees, new protocols and extra training for the custodial staff, and providing additional alcohol-based sanitizers throughout high-traffic areas on campus. The Health Center has also been stocked with items students can use to treat the illness and prevent its spread (masks, thermometers, personal hand-sanitizers, etc.)
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Q. Why is the College moving ahead with Family Weekend in light of the outbreak?
A. At this time, health officials in Oneida County are not recommending that large gatherings be canceled. Those with underlying health issues such as asthma or other preexisting medical conditions who are concerned about the H1N1 virus on campus should contact their personal health care provider.
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Q. Will the College provide vaccinations for students against H1N1?
A. We expect to. Hamilton has ordered a large quantity of vaccine for the H1N1 virus and confirmation of our order has been received. At this point, we do not know how many doses of the vaccine will be provided or when they will arrive. In a message from the New York State Department of Health on Oct. 29 the commissioner said production of the H1N1 vaccine has been delayed and "large amounts of vaccine are not expected to be available in New York until mid-November or later." As soon as the vaccine is available, a flu shot clinic will be scheduled and students who choose to do so will be vaccinated.
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October 29, 2009

Q. Are those who contract the virus more or less likely to get it again?
A. Oftentimes, a person who contracts and recovers from a virus builds an immunity to that virus, but at this point we cannot be certain that H1N1 influenza will follow the same pattern. It is still important to practice good hygiene, especially during this flu season.
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Q. Is the college planning to cancel classes or adjust grading procedures, such as going to a pass-fail system for the fall semester?
A. No, but if you have questions about a specific course, you should e-mail or call your professor.
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Q. Are eco-friendly cleaning products effective against the influenza-like illness, especially the H1N1 strain?
A. Yes
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November 3, 2009