H1N1 (Swine) Flu

July 04, 2011

Are you Ready?

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, Ian McGregor & Associates Inc.

When the threat of an H5N1 (Avian Flu) pandemic looked imminent in the last few years, many universities scrambled to put a plan in place. While that threat did not materialise (for now), universities are now faced with a world-wide outbreak of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus — a different disease requiring a different planning model. A key change for campus emergency planners this time around is a recognized need for a more flexible model (versus the more rigid plans originally developed for the Avian Flu strain).

According to Chris Tapfer, Emergency Management Coordinator for Washington State University, the big issues for Campus Recreation programs will be flexibility and hygiene. According to Tapfer, campus closures will be very unlikely and although there will potentially be a lot of sick students, the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to have individuals stay home and out of circulation for 3-5 days, and until at least 24 hours after their fever has subsided. This means Campus Recreation programs may still be able to function but will need to ramp up sanitization programs and protective measures.

Since increased diligence in hygiene and sanitization is also the key to preventing the spread of other contagious diseases such as MRSA (see article in this Newsletter), it is therefore recommended that Campus Recreation Directors review their cleaning and sanitization protocols to ensure that spread of highly contagious diseases like Swine Flu and MRSA is minimized.

For more information on these threats, and advice on how to deal with them:

  1. Consult with your campus Risk Management Department and/or Emergency Response Coordinator.
  2. Review the H1N1 Update in this Newseletter
  3. Access information on H1N1 provided by the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/
  4. Review the MRSA article in this Newsletter.
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