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Update on Swine Flu

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hand washingThe best defense against contracting and spreading the H1N1 influenza virus is good personal hygiene, explained Dr. Jack Turco, director of Dartmouth College Health Services, at two open information sessions for the campus on Monday, May 4.

The virus, also known as swine flu, appeared in Mexico in early April; the first case was confirmed in the United States on April 26. It has since spread to 21 countries, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases worldwide, though the majority of those cases have been mild.

As of May 5, one Hanover Inn employee had been diagnosed with a probable case of H1N1, while seven of eight suspected student cases had been ruled out.

A "suspected" case is defined by a temperature of at least 100 degrees and flu-like symptoms, such as nasal congestion, sore throat, or coughing. A "probable" case is one that tests positive for influenza A, of which H1N1 is a subtype, but does not match other known seasonal subtypes.

Turco said that using tissues when coughing or sneezing, as well as washing hands, helps prevent virus transmission. People who are coughing continuously should wear face masks, which are available at Dick's House. Anyone with a fever and flu-like symptoms should stay home until the symptoms reside.

Employees are also encouraged to wash their hands with soap and hot water after coughing, sneezing, or touching common surfaces (such as a door handle, countertop, or shared computer) and before eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or handling contact lenses. Hand sanitizers may be used if no sink is available.

As a precaution, Dartmouth cancelled the spring term Spanish Language Study Abroad (LSA) program in Cholula, Mexico, located one hour away from the center of the outbreak in Mexico City.

The program had been compromised by the closure of the campus of Universidad de las Américas Puebla, where the Dartmouth students took classes. Travel in the region, a key component of the LSA, had also been restricted.

The College transported all participants back to their homes in the United States. As of May 5, none of the evacuated students had shown symptoms of the illness since returning to the United States.

By SARAH MAXELL CROSBY '04

H1N1: Stay Informed

Audio recordings of the campus information sessions:

Prevention is the best cure: Using a tissue when coughing or sneezing and frequent hand washing with soap and hot water are key to preventing the spread of illness.

If you get sick: Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher and symptoms such as nasal congestion, sore throat, or coughing should stay home. If you have concerns or your symptoms escalate, see your doctor.

 

Last Updated: 5/11/09