Any Wilmington University faculty, student, or staff experiencing flu like symptoms or diagnosed with the flu should contact the Office of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@wilmu.edu or 302-356-6939.

For Further information on Novel H1N1 Influenza please visit the US Center for Disease Control at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu

Health Advisory

Influenza

Policy Statement and Purpose: Wilmington University makes every effort to educate and protect all staff and students against outbreaks of Influenza.

Influenza Overview

What is Influenza?

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can be fatal. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. There are three types of influenza viruses: A (A H1N1 and A H3N2), B (further broken into various strains) and C (mild respiratory illnesses not thought to cause epidemics).

How common is the Influenza infection?

Every year in the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscle Aches
  • Headache
  • Dry Cough
  • Runny or Stuffy Nose
  • Stomach Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

How does the flu spread?

The main way that influenza viruses are spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. (This is called "droplet spread.") This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands. Healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Treatment of the Influenza

Antiviral drugs have been found effective for prevention and treatment of the flu. For treatment, antiviral drugs should be started within 2 days after becoming sick. When used this way, these drugs can reduce the severity of flu symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. When used to prevent the flu, antiviral drugs are about 70% to 90% effective against susceptible viruses (i.e. viruses that are not resistant to the antiviral medication). It’s important to remember that flu antiviral drugs are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine.

Prevention of Influenza

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?

Vaccinations:

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. There are two types of vaccines:

  • The "flu shot" – an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine – a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

The novel H1N1 vaccine is expected to be available in October 2009. The novel H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended to be used along-side seasonal flu vaccine.

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses. Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.

Other ways you can prevent flu infection and transmission:

  • Wash Your Hands OFTEN!! Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Get Plenty of Rest
  • Stay Active
  • Manage Stress
  • Plenty of Fluids
  • Eat Nutritious Diet
  • Avoid People who are sick

What is the best way to prevent spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

  • Self-Isolation, which is limiting your interactions with others (i.e. work, classes, practices…) when you have flu-like symptoms, except to seek medical care, until you have not had a fever or signs of a fever for at least 24 hours (without the assistance of fever reducing medications).
  • Keep in mind some people infected with influenza may not have a fever! Just because there is an absence of fever does not mean the absence of infection.
  • Practice "respiratory etiquette" at all times, which means covering your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing, either with a tissue, handkerchief, or your sleeve if necessary.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

  • Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner for 15 to 20 seconds.

Revised 9/2/09