A Q & A on the Flu

September 01, 2009

A Q & A on the Flu Saint Leo University’s Health & Wellness Center is continuing to counsel students on how best to prevent any flu-like illness and how best to cope if a student does become ill. The Health & Wellness Center can be reached at (352) 588-8347. Teresa Dadez, RN, director of the Wellness Center, answers the most frequently asked questions here.
Novel Influenza A (H1N1) FAQ

What should I do if I think I have the flu?

Stay home and drink plenty of fluids. For temperatures greater than 100 ºF or 37.8 ºC, take an over-the-counter fever medication, such as Tylenol or Advil, as directed on the bottle. If you think you might need medical attention or have an underlying health condition, call the Wellness Center or your health care provider. It's important that you call first so that you don't expose others. You will be given instructions on what to do. Most people with the flu can take care of themselves at home. As always, if you're having an emergency situation, such as difficulty breathing, you should call 911 immediately.

How do I know if I have H1N1 or seasonal flu?
Symptoms of H1N1 and the regular seasonal flu are similar: fever, sore throat, cough, and body aches. Because testing is not currently recommended for most people, you may not end up knowing which type of flu you have. If you demonstrate flu-like symptoms in the early fall, health care providers will assume that the flu is H1N1. If symptoms occur later in the year, seasonal flu will be assumed, as seasonal flu usually occurs from the late fall through spring.

How do I take care of my roommate who is sick with the flu?
The recommendations for taking care of a roommate are the same as taking care of someone who is ill in your home. Please see, "Interim Guidance for H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home."

What can I do to prevent getting H1N1 and the seasonal flu?
Like seasonal flu, H1N1 flu is transmitted through respiratory secretions (for example, coughing or sneezing). The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. You can also reduce your risk of infection by washing your hands often. Use soap and warm water, and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. You can boost your immune system by getting enough sleep, eating healthfully, exercising, and managing stress. The Wellness Center offers a variety of services to help students stay well. Keep your distance from others while you or they are sick. Staying home from work, class, and other activities helps prevent spreading your illness to others.

Will I be able to get Novel Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine?
The government is controlling the distribution of the vaccine. We are anticipating receipt and will let students know when it is available.

Will Saint Leo cancel classes?
The current guidelines for universities expressly tell universities to stay open. Things may change in the event of a major outbreak, but those decisions will be made together with the health department. Stay ahead of your studies and assignments. Then, if you fall ill, you won't fall as far behind. These guidelines are from the federal Centers for Disease Control, or CDC.

Will I be excused from class if I'm sick?
Faculty will make decisions individually about how each class will be handled. If there is a major outbreak, the Wellness Center will work with you to provide a valid medical excuse for your instructor to consider. Remember that when you ask for an excuse when you don't need one you are keeping a health care provider from seeing a student who may be very sick.

Who is at risk for H1N1?
Although anyone can get the H1N1 flu, it seems that young people are more easily infected. Pregnant women, those with young children, or those who provide care to young children are considered to be at greatest risk, as are individuals with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma.

I heard that another school is doing something different/CDC recommends something else.
Recommendations are made by the CDC and are interpreted or enforced by the local public health department as warranted by factors unique to each situation. You might not see the same action in another state, in K-12 grades. Saint Leo University is under the jurisdiction of the Pasco County Department of Public Health.

How will the school know when there is a change in health department recommendations?
The University is in constant communication with the CDC and Pasco Health Department. E-mails are received whenever there is a change or update.

Should I get the regular flu shot?
Yes. Getting the regular flu shot will help your provider know which flu you have should you get sick. It will also minimize your chance of having two types of flu at once. You will also help stop the spread of the regular flu in our community.

I am the parent of a SLU student. What can I do?

  • Reinforce the simple things you've been saying all along: Wash your hands! Cover your cough! Get enough rest! Eat well!
  • Your son or daughter is much more likely to remain healthy if they frequently wash their hands. They should also carry an alcohol-based hand disinfectant.
  • Encourage your daughter or son to get a seasonal flu shot this fall. The Wellness Center will provide them as long as supplies are available.
  • Check with your health care provider to make sure your student is up to date on his/her immunizations. Students with underlying conditions may need additional vaccines that are not given routinely to all children. Some examples of underlying conditions are asthma and cardiovascular disease.
  • Students who are sick with the flu should go home and stay there until 24 hours after their fever has resolved without using a fever-reducing medication. More infnew linkormation on caring for someone sick in your home is available at, "Interim Guidance for H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home"
  • Encourage your student to keep up with and even stay ahead of studying and assignments. If they become ill, they won't fall as far behind.
  • Talk to your student about what to do if they get sick. They should plan to spend as much as a week out of class if they are sick with the flu. Your student should have a week of flu supplies ready so they have it when needed. The kit should include medicine to reduce fever, a thermometer, disposable tissues, and a hand disinfectant. You can also include some nourishing liquids.
  • If your son or daughter becomes sick with the flu and must remain on campus, they will need to stay in their room until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the need to use a fever-reducing medication. A friend should be identified who can look in on them several times a day. Both people should use facemasks.

For more information, contact Teresa Dadez at teresa.dadez@saintleo.edu, or visit the following links: