H1N1 (swine) influenza has made rapid progress globally since its recognition in April 2009. The 2009 influenza pandemic has spread internationally with unprecedented speed. In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus spread in less than six weeks. On June 11, 2009 the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert to level 6 indicating a global pandemic.
Because of the global presence of H1N1, the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization are no longer tracking specific numbers of cases. Instead, they are directing their resources toward lessening the severity and spread of the virus. In general, suspected cases of H1N1 no longer require confirmation. Rather, individuals with flulike symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue) are presumed to have H1N1, and are being treated accordingly. As the number of cases increases, it is likely that the medical community will encourage individuals to self care at home, and not go to the doctor or other health provider.
According to the CDC, most people who get H1N1 will be able to take care of themselves at home without needing medical care. If, however, you have a chronic medical condition (asthma, diabetes, or other medical conditions affecting the heart, lungs, blood, liver or kidneys, weakened immune system, etc.); are pregnant; or if your symptoms become severe (trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, sudden dizziness, severe or persistent vomiting, etc.) you should seek medical attention immediately.
To date, a handful of H1N1 cases have been reported among the UWF community. With the start of the fall semester, the university fully expects more cases to be both identified by the UWF Student Health Center staff and self-reported. Because of the likely escalation in H1N1 cases among faculty, staff and students, precautions are being taken now to minimize any disruption to our students’ successful completion of their courses. These steps include:
Communication Efforts - The UWF Administration has endorsed the CDC Guidelines for Response to Influenza for Higher Education, and the university is in the process of communicating information to the campus community. A series of educational posters outlining prevention strategies, symptoms to watch for, and information related to vaccinations (seasonal and H1N1) have been developed. The first posters were distributed the first week of classes to be displayed in the residence halls, classroom buildings, University Commons, Library, Computer Labs, Recreational facilities and community restrooms. Informational posters have been put up in campus buildings.
Students will be receiving communications over the next few days via e-mail, through Argus and other forms of campus announcements. Information will be provided regarding access to the Student Health Center (all students are eligible to be seen at the Health Center), prevention strategies and preliminary information regarding the future availability of the H1N1 vaccine. UWF is also providing hand sanitizers in areas where students congregate (i.e. residence halls, library, recreation facilities, dining facilities, classroom buildings, etc.).
Finally, UWF's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs has been in communication with the faculty for the past several weeks regarding plans to protect the continuity of the academic semester. Methods such as online instruction and faculty “back-ups” for face-to-face classes are being discussed.
The general health information provided on this Web site is meant to be educational and should not be taken as specific medical advice for any individual. If you have specific medical questions or concerns, please contact your health provider.