November 6, 2009
Dear Brown Faculty and Staff,
I am writing to provide an update regarding H1N1 influenza at Brown. Over the past month we have continued to see a steady but fairly low rate of students self-reporting or seeking treatment at University Health Services for influenza-like illness (ILI). The cases at Brown to date continue to be similar to seasonal influenza: relatively mild, and responsive to treatment when necessary. The University’s H1N1 task force continues to meet every two weeks, and monitors information and developments on a daily basis. The task force is in regular contact with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), faculty from the Alpert Medical School, and leadership from Brown Health Services.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has reported that influenza-like illness is widespread in Rhode Island, with the predominant strain being H1N1. Accordingly, we expect to see more cases of ILI at Brown in the coming weeks. This is to be expected given the nature of the virus and not a cause for alarm. Our efforts will continue to be focused primarily on trying to limit the spread of H1N1 during the course of the fall and winter.
The most important things Brown community members can do to prevent the spread of illness are to practice good health hygiene (wash hands often, cover coughs, etc. – more information available on-line at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/qa.htm#d) and to stay home when sick. Individuals who are sick with flu symptoms should stay home from school or work and, to the extent possible, limit contact with others, except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
Individuals who are well but who have an ill family member at home with H1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These individuals should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of ILI. If they become ill, they should stay home. For more information about caring for yourself or an ill person in your home, please see http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/general_info.htm.
We encourage all members of the community to receive both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 vaccinations, if they are able. Brown will be a site for college-age Brown students, those 24 years of age and younger, to receive the H1N1 vaccination in clinics on-campus, most likely after Thanksgiving. Information about those clinics will be communicated directly to students by the Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services. All other Brown community members who wish to receive the H1N1 vaccine will need to do so, as vaccine becomes available, through hospital based clinics (for medical students, healthcare providers, first responders), public clinics, provider offices or other mechanisms as prescribed by their state health organization. Information about vaccination distribution for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut residents can be found at the following web-sites:
Rhode Island: http://www.health.ri.gov/flu/about/vaccination/
Further information about H1N1, including specific information for faculty and students regarding handling absences from classes, and links to websites such as RIDOH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) can be found on-line at: www.brown.edu/h1n1. Students continue to register their ILI and missed classes using FluWeb; faculty may now view a list of students in their classes who have reported being ill by selecting the “Faculty LogIn” button on the FluWeb site at: http://www.brown.edu/fluweb.
Russell C. Carey