Swine Flu: Prepared or Panicked?

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As the final weeks wind down in the academic year, many students have their eyes set on the summer months, a time when schedules change as do pursuits. Maybe you have a summer job lined up, a volunteer opportunity in place or simply have plans to take a course or two with plans to hit the beach before school gears up this fall.

nursingWhat you aren’t planning on is to get sick and, if you’re like a lot of people these days, you can’t help but think that swine flu could be something you’ll be hearing a lot more about this summer, perhaps on a much more personal level too.

The Centers For Disease Control Weighs In

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring the development and spread of the virus and issuing guidelines to schools, businesses and other public places on how to deal with possible outbreaks. Working in conjunction with colleges, the CDC is urging schools to take the following steps to help them prepare for a possible outbreak:

Planning and CoordinationIdentify a pandemic coordinator and response team (including campus health services and mental health staff, student housing personnel, security, communications staff, physical plant staff, food services director, academic staff and student representatives) with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness, response, and recovery planning. Additional steps to be taken include stockpiling nonperishable foods and medicines, updating the school’s emergency notification system, canceling sporting events and classes.

Continuity of Student Learning and Operations — Develop and disseminate alternative procedures to assure continuity of instruction (e.g., web-based distance instruction, telephone trees, mailed lessons and assignments, instruction via local radio or television stations) in the event of college/university closures. Also includes providing food for on campus students as well as housekeeping during a pandemic.

Infection Control Policies and Procedures — Implement infection control policies and procedures that help limit the spread of influenza on campus (e.g. promotion of hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette). (See Infection Control www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic/healthprofessional.htm). Make good hygiene a habit now in order to help protect employees and students from many infectious diseases such as influenza. Encourage students and staff to get annual influenza vaccine (www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm). CDC also recommends that schools adopt their pandemic plans regarding student movement and visitation.

Communications PlanningAssess readiness to meet communications needs in preparation for an influenza pandemic, including regular review, testing, and updating of communications plans that link with public health authorities and other key stakeholders (See www.hhs.gov/pandemicflu/plan/sup10.html). Includes counseling students and faculty members during and after the crisis.

Of course, there is a tendency for some people to downplay the problem while others could panic and create a much more difficult situation for themselves. The best approach is for you to stay alert to possible changes in your own health as well as to keep in tune with the latest updates. If you should feel yourself becoming ill and exhibiting flu-like symptoms, then get yourself to a doctor as soon as possible.

Source: Centers For Disease Control (CDC)

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