Penn State Prepares for H1N1

August 20, 2009

By Jonathan McVerry (Public Information/Penn State)

As H1N1 continues to make headlines, Penn State is preparing for the highly contagious flu—if and when it arrives. The University is encouraging its employees and students to do what they can to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this strain of flu.

This past June, H1N1 (or swine flu) became a household name as reports of the unusual flu popped up all around the world. Several cases were reported at Penn State over the summer and officials are predicting a rise in cases beginning in September or early October. The virus is most likely to affect individuals between the ages of six months and twenty-five years old, making Penn State a prime location for a high number of cases. Those who contract the illness can still get the seasonal flu, and although a large percentage of Penn State employees are not in the primary target age for the H1N1 virus, this disease is highly contagious and can still be easily transmitted. The spread of this illness also can reach younger children at home or in school, and they will need to be cared for, as well.

Public officials are aiming to reduce the spread of H1N1 so that the effects of the disease on the general population will be lessened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released recommendations on who should receive the H1N1 flu vaccine this fall based on susceptibility to the virus. The H1N1 vaccine will be distributed by the federal government (FEMA) through state health departments. It is not yet known when the vaccine will be available but it will likely not arrive before mid-October. A listing of those prioritized for vaccination can be found at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm.

It is possible to contract both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu since exposure to one does not result in immunity to the other. Therefore it is very important to get the seasonal flu vaccine.

Fighting both strains of flu (seasonal and H1N1) begins with hand washing, proper cold etiquette (by coughing or sneezing into your sleeve), and/or obtaining a flu shot. It is recommended that ill individuals exclude themselves from the public until after twenty-four fever-free hours—a process that takes five to seven days. The illness may greatly affect the University at many levels, so it is important that our community stays informed.

For University and federal information on H1N1, visit the below Web sites:

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Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.