September 4, 2009

Dear Brown Students,

I am writing with some important medical information and advice regarding H1N1 influenza. As you are likely aware, H1N1 is a new strain of the influenza virus with similar symptoms and behavior to the seasonal flu that infects people every year. As it is a new virus, humans have not yet developed immunity to it, so public health authorities anticipate a large number of people will likely be infected this fall and winter. H1N1 is prevalent in Rhode Island and patients with flu-like symptoms are presumed to have the H1N1 virus. At this time, the virus has behaved similarly to the seasonal flu with the vast majority of patients recovering without any serious problems.

Besides good hygiene (hand washing, cough etiquette, etc), the most useful action to control the spread of H1N1 is to limit contact of sick patients with others. This is best accomplished by students who become sick remaining in their rooms until they have no fever (without fever reducing medication) for 24 hours. 

Brown, like most residential colleges, does not have the capability or available housing to move large numbers of either sick or well students. Because of this, students who are unable to leave campus (to return home or to a relative’s), will need to stay in their bedrooms, suites, or apartment until they have recovered. This plan has been reviewed and approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health and is consistent with the guidelines they and the CDC have issued.

Most students will fall into one of the following three categories:

1. If you live in a single room alone and are unable to go home to parents or relatives, you should remain in your room until you have no fever for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) and follow the guidelines below. 

2. If you live in a suite or apartment or house and have a separate bedroomand are unable to go home to parents or relatives, you should remain in your bedroom until you have no fever for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) and follow the guidelines below. Ask your roommate to follow the guidelines for living with a sick person below.

3. If you live in a room with one or more roommates sharing your bedroomand are unable to go home to parents or relatives, you should remain in your room until you have no fever for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) and follow the guidelines below. Ask your roommates to follow the guidelines for living with a sick person below

If you do not fall into any of these categories, please use the guidelines below to guide your behavior. Remember the principles of staying away from others and self-isolating yourself to your room until you have no fever for 24 hours.

For all of the above situations, if the fire alarm in your living area goes off, you must evacuate. If possible, wear a mask. If needed, seek help from university staff or uniformed personnel in the area.

When classes begin on Wednesday, September 9 and the Dining Halls are open for all students on meal contract we will recommend that students who are sick make arrangements with a friend to bring food back from the Dining Hall or your normal food location and a plan will be in place to provide some food to students in isolation who are unable to make such arrangements. During orientation – today and through Tuesday, September 8 – any student who is sick and staying in their room and unable to have food brought to them should contact Health Services at 863-1330.

By following these preventative measures, we hope you have a healthy semester.  Please check our website regularly for updates on H1N1 matters.

 

Sincerely,

Edward J. Wheeler, M.D.
Director
University Health Services