As the flu season progresses, we are working closely with city and state public health offices to monitor flu conditions. In an effort to keep you updated with new information as it becomes available, I wanted to let you know that since the beginning of the academic year, there have been a total of 143 Influenza-like Illness (ILI)-related cases reported to WPI Health Services. These cases have not been confirmed to be H1N1, however, they are assumed to be. A total of two laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 have been reported to WPI Health Services since the fall flu season started. There appears to be no pattern in all of the cases of the individuals who have become ill.
Regarding the H1N1 vaccine, WPI will hold vaccination clinics for the campus community as soon as we receive vaccine shipments. In the meantime, WPI Health Services has a supply of the pneumococcal vaccine as a preventative measure for individuals who are at high risk for H1N1 or an ILI. In addition, your doctor may prescribe an "antiviral" for treating both seasonal and H1N1 flu. Antivirals can make you better faster and may also prevent serious complications. This flu season, antiviral drugs are being used mainly to treat people who are very sick, such as people who need to be hospitalized; and to treat sick people who are more likely to get serious flu complications. Your health care provider will decide whether antiviral drugs are needed to treat your illness. Remember, most people with H1N1 have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs, and the same is true of seasonal flu.
It is important to take everyday preventative actions to protect yourself against the flu. This flu season has months left to go. The most effective tool for safeguarding our collective health is vigilance in preventing illness, and taking exceptional care in the event of illness. We ask all members of the WPI community diagnosed with ILI or H1N1 to self-isolate until at least 24 hours after their fever breaks (without the aid of fever-reducing medication). WPI also reminds everyone to follow the CDC's tips for prevention:
- Wash your hands often, or use disinfectants if access to soap and water is limited;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue;
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially after contact with others;
- Keep a 6-foot [two-meter] distance between yourself and anyone who is ill.