Advisory affects staff, students in Livingston and Demopolis

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The University of West Alabama encourages students, faculty and staff to take preventative measures to reduce the spread of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) to the university community.

 Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

 Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

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 Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

 Avoid close contact with sick people.

 The University is monitoring developing conditions daily, has formed a response team to take precautionary measures, and is in close contact with local and state emergency and health officials.

The announcement comes only one day after two University of North Alabama students were diagnosed as probable H1N1 cases.

All personnel and students are asked to be vigilant in reporting suspected or confirmed cases of the virus in their department or classroom, said Jeff Manuel, campus safety director.

“We want to know about any ‘hot spots’ on campus, so we can take appropriate action,” Manuel said. “Please report cases to Angel Jowers, planning and assessment coordinator, at 205-652-3809.”

Those with flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, coughing or sore throat, headache, fatigue, and diarrhea or vomiting, are asked to follow the Center for Disease Control recommendation to stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

“If you get these symptoms, please stay home unless seeking medical attention,” Manuel said. “Avoid normal activities, such as work, class, shopping, social events and public gatherings. Limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them.”

However, those who are pregnant or who have chronic illnesses including asthma or diabetes should immediately seek medical attention, Manuel stressed.

UWA encourages students diagnosed with H1N1 influenza to return home, via private vehicle, for the duration of their illness, if possible. Those who reside on campus and cannot return home should immediately notify their Hall Director or Resident Assistant so accommodations can be made.

The University is also preparing “flu kits,” including H1N1 information, hand sanitizer, thermometers, acetaminophen and masks, to distribute in residence halls and to those with influenza symptoms.

Please monitor UWA’s H1N1 Influenza Watch Web site for updated information. For questions or concerns, contact the University’s Department of Public Safety at 205-652-3602.

Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Neil Hyche noted a number of students have missed classes due to illness but said there was no cause for alarm.

“We have had a few excessive absences at some schools, but they did not turn out to be flu,” he said.

Demopolis City Schools head nurse Geraldine Walker said in preparation for future outbreaks, the city school system would host a flu shot clinic soon on a volunteer basis.

“The parents will be sent notifications. It will be on a volunteer basis only,” she said. “We can’t just give the students a shot because they’re in the system; the parents have to sign for it, if they want their children to have a flu shot.”