What is University doing in response to the Pandemic H1N1 Influenza?
As part of our comprehensive Emergency Management Program, Georgia State University has been preparing for a public health emergency for a number of years. Georgia State University’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide timely and relevant information to students, faculty and staff that address the challenges posed by the new H1N1 virus.
Georgia State is working with state and local health departments to enhance surveillance in Georgia and Fulton County and maintains communication with our community. It is also important to recognize the continued leadership and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which continues to issue new and updated interim guidance for clinicians, public health professionals and the public for the prevention and treatment of this new virus.
As new information becomes available, Georgia State will update students, faculty and staff through regular updates through various mediums.
What are the university’s plans to respond to an outbreak on campus?
Georgia State University has an established Pandemic Influenza Task Force and written plan. We have very close working relationships with local hospitals—which have sophisticated disaster plans—as well as with local, state and federal health officials and our Pandemic Task Force is closely monitoring the H1N1 outbreaks to best protect the campus. The Task Force is constantly reviewing its pandemic plans and has asked specific Emergency Coordinators to update their departmental plans.
Representatives from the University Pandemic Task Force are in close contact with the Fulton County Health & Wellness Department, State and County Emergency officials, and Senior Officials from the CDC. University Emergency Management officials regularly participate in meetings and briefings with the previously mentioned agencies.
How is the campus prepared for emergencies?
Georgia State University has a comprehensive emergency management program under the guidance of a full-time emergency planner. It includes a formal emergency operations plan for preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies. Georgia State uses a virtual emergency operations center to coordinate response to major emergencies and trained employees staff the center. Georgia State regularly conducts training sessions and emergency exercises. Georgia State is part of a regional emergency management system and is in compliance with state and federal standards for managing emergencies.
How will Georgia State communicate with students, faculty and staff during a public health emergency?
Georgia State has numerous methods to communicate with our community – webpage, emails, phone/cell, SMS/text, printed materials, television and radio. The primary means to communicate with our community during this pandemic will be provided in the form of a dedicated H1N1 web-page and email notifications. If you require additional information, please contact [email protected].
How do I keep up to date with the situation at Georgia State?
Georgia State has established a Web site to provide the latest information about the campus response to the outbreak: http://www.gsu.edu/flu
The H1N1 Flu Web site encourages people to be aware of H1N1 flu’s symptoms, similar to those of seasonal flu, and to take steps to prevent infection. Questions about the Georgia State response can be sent to [email protected].
Has Georgia State changed any regular operations?
Currently, there are no changes to university operations or activities as a result of the declared pandemic due to the novel H1N1 influenza.
How would Georgia State decide to cancel events or classes?
Georgia State takes its lead from the Fulton County Health & Wellness Department and other Public Health agencies. The current situation does not warrant canceling classes or major events. Health officials say the flu itself appears to be mild, and most patients recover on their own. The primary focus of public health measures is to contain the spread of this virus by prevention education and identifying, isolating and treating suspected cases so they do not infect others.
What role does Public Health Departments play in Georgia State’s response?
During a declared public health emergency, it is the responsibility of the public health departments at the county and state levels to issue comprehensive orders, direct cancellation of mass gathering events or closures of facilities, designate key healthcare facilities and distribute anti-viral medications. This authority encompasses all private citizens, businesses and campus operations. All segments of Georgia State University will work closely with the local Georgia State public health offices to comply with all guidance and recommendations.
My parents worried are about whether it’s safe for me to be on campus. What should I tell them?
At this time, Georgia State has no reason to cancel classes or close the university. Georgia State’s Student Health and Wellness Center regularly screens students who are concerned that they may have Influenza.
Campus-wide steps are being taken to protect the health, welfare and safety of our students. The university has posted a good deal of information to a special H1N1 (swine flu) web site linked from its home page and is updating the site as more information becomes available. You are encouraged to periodically check this web-page for updated information and stay informed.
Georgia State also is taking steps to educate members of its community about prevention, the symptoms of this flu, and what to do if one becomes sick. Georgia State has a Student Health and Wellness Center and its health care professionals are available to treat any students who are symptomatic with flu-like illness.
Georgia State’s Pandemic Task Force and Emergency Management officials are consulting with the Fulton County Health Department, the Georgia Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn best practices to protect our students and university community.
How should my family and I get information about the H1N1 Influenza (swine flu)?
The best single site for H1N1 information is the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) –http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/. For specific information related to Georgia State, our university has posted a substantial amount of information to its web site, including frequently asked questions and links to county, state, national and international health agency web sites. On Georgia State’s H1N1 web site, you will find recommendations about prevention, symptoms and what to do if you get sick.
What should I do if I am pregnant or have compromised health? Should I come to campus anyway?
Georgia State recommends you consult with your physician. If your health care provider advises you against coming to Georgia State’s campus, you should contact your faculty members to make alternative arrangements for completing your semester. If you are unable to reach faculty members, you should contact the department chair in that academic area. Names of department chairs can be found on the departmental web site.
A co-worker went home sick and we have been told he/she has the H1N1 swine flu. What should we do?
The H1N1 influenza virus should be treated like any other influenza – special precautions or actions are not necessary at this time.
We want to sanitize or decontaminate his/her work area. What is the best way to do that?
Cleaning beyond your normal custodial routine is not considered necessary. The virus does not travel through HVAC systems and it does not live on surfaces for longer than a few hours. Using antibacterial wipes on shared keyboards, phones and doorknobs is a good practice to prevent the spread of any virus or bacteria.
Should I get a facemask and wear it? Should everyone be wearing a face mask?
Facemasks are not being recommended for healthy people. On the other hand, a facemask can prevent someone who is ill from spreading the virus when they cough or sneeze. If you have an influenza-like illness, you should STAY HOME. If you do have to go out, wear a face mask to protect others.
If a number of people were exposed to the co-worker who is sick, should they go home?
Everyone should come to work or class as usual as long as they do not have flu-like symptoms, even if they may have been exposed to the influenza virus through contact with someone who is ill.
Should I tell people I was exposed to the H1N1 swine flu? If I was exposed should I go to the doctor and get tested?
It is up to you to determine if you want to let others know. You do not need to provide this information though some of your colleagues may appreciate knowing if they’ve been exposed, especially those with other health issues. The H1N1 influenza virus should be treated like any other influenza – if you would not take those actions for the seasonal flu, you don’t have to take them for the H1N1 flu.
What are the symptoms of H1N1 flu? What symptoms should I look for in myself?
The symptoms of H1N1 appear to be similar to the seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People infected with the H1N1 virus also have experienced diarrhea and vomiting.
What should I do if I feel sick? When is it safe to come back to work?
Stay home if you are sick. If you have symptoms of influenza-like illness, contact your physician or Student Health Clinic and stay home for at least 7 days after symptoms start or for 24 hours after symptoms go away, whichever is longer. If your symptoms persist more than 7 days, contact your physician.
Isn’t the H1N1 swine flu more serious than the regular flu? Why are so many people getting sick?
H1N1 influenza is different than the seasonal flu because it is a novel (new) virus that has not existed previously, and people have not developed immunity. There will continue to be cases of flu-like illness among students and staff on campus and in the community.
Is there anything I can do to protect myself?
Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People may become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose. The best thing you can do is follow good health hygiene rules:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and throw the tissue away after you use it. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into clothing — i.e. your sleeve rather than your bare hands. (For a lighthearted — and correct – lesson in the proper ways to cough or sneeze, watch “Why Don’t we Do It In Our Sleeves” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wju7F5ytk6M )
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs and viruses spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Can’t I just go get a flu shot?
Flu vaccines are made for a specific strain of the influenza virus. Because this is a new virus, the vaccine for it is being manufactured but won’t be available until the Fall.