Public Health Advisory from Student Health Services
We are in the midst of flu season and according to the New Jersey Department of Health, influenza activity is high in all regions of the State. With the start of a new semester, Student Health Services would like to give you some information about the flu virus, prevention and care and to remind you that it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a viral illness that is most common in the fall and winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is difficult to know if flu activity has peaked for this year. However based on previous flu seasons, flu activity usually lasts well into February and even March. This is a very contagious illness that is spread by droplets that are released when the infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks in close proximity to others. People can also get sick by touching their nose or mouth after touching a contaminated object such as a doorknob, table or a hand; the virus can live on untreated surfaces for several hours.
Symptoms of the flu include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, feeling weak and tired, headache, chills, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone will experience the flu the same way or have all these symptoms, but most who have the flu feel extremely sick. You should see or your Health Care provider if you have a fever or other flu symptoms.
The flu can have serious complications including: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, sudden dizziness, confusion, constant vomiting or return of symptoms after feeling better. These are all situations that require emergency medical care.
Most otherwise healthy people recover from the flu with rest, fluids and medications to control fever. The use of antiviral medications can be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Vaccinate: It is never too late to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is available at many retail pharmacies, primary care providers and health departments. Getting the vaccine can lessen the course of the illness if you do get infected.
Isolation: If you do not have the flu, stay away from people who are sick. If you do have the flu, stay at home and rest. Resident students will be asked to convalesce at home if possible. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues in the trash and wash your hands.
Students should contact their professors; let them know Student Health Services or some other health care provider has diagnosed you with the flu. If you will be out of class longer than five consecutive days, contact Student Health Services about a short term leave of absence or medical leave of absence. Do not return to school until you are fever free, without the use of fever reducers, for 24 hours, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
Faculty and staff should stay at home if you experience flu like illness and contact your primary care provider. Contact your supervisor to notify him/her of your need for sick leave. If your period of absence extends for five consecutive days or more, you may need to request a medical leave of absence by contacting the Office of Human Resources. If you become sick at work with flu like illness, you should notify your supervisor of your need for sick leave and contact your primary care provider.
Cleaning: WASH YOUR HANDS! This is the simplest and most important thing you can do. Wash with soap and warm water often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, desks, phones, etc. Flu viruses are killed by heat above 167F and many common household products. Products containing chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics) and alcohols will kill the flu virus.
NOTE: Mixing bleach with ammonia is extremely dangerous and is NOT recommended, since toxic vapors will be produced.
If you have more questions, regarding policies students can contact Student Health Services at (908) 737-4880. Faculty staff can contact Human Resources at (908) 737-3300. You can also get reliable updates at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.