New Website Keeps Up with Flu

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The University of West Georgia launched a new website devoted to updated information on the seasonal flu and the Type A Influenza (H1N1) viruses at http://www.westga.edu/flu/. The site offers information for students and their parents, faculty and staff, and advice on prevention and when and how to self-isolate.

Students are advised to report to Health Services if they are ill, but they will not be screened for Type A flu unless they met the screening criteria set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

According to Dr. Leslie Cottrell, director of UWG Health Services, students who are ill with flu-like symptoms (fever, dry cough and body aches) will be tested for Type A influenza only if they have a fever of 102 or higher.

According to Thomas Mackel, chief of University Police and chair of the UWG Pandemic Flu Committee, the university stays in contact with the Georgia Department of Public Health and is currently following all CDC guidelines concerning proper preventive and treatment measures.

John Millsaps, associate vice chancellor of Media and Publications for the University System of Georgia, noted that the new fall semester has brought a number of expected consequences: new students on campus and, with those students, an increase in reported flu cases on campuses throughout the state.

“In terms of flu, this is not ‘news’ to anyone in the USG, or, in fact, anyone familiar with and/or responsible for monitoring and addressing such infectious viruses,” said Millsaps. “In fact, the USG has been working internally and with other state and federal agencies for months to predict, project and prepare for an expected increase in flu cases with the onset of the new semester.”

If students, faculty or staff are diagnosed with Type A influenza, the CDC recommends self-isolation, which means no contact with others until there is no fever present for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. UWG encourages students to go home if at all possible for the duration of their illness.

Self-isolation requires the ill individual to remain in their room and not attend classes or any social functions. Students living in on-campus residence halls should contact their Resident Advisor for instructions in the event their roommate becomes ill.

Meals for those students with campus meal plans will be delivered to the ill students while they are observing self-isolation.  Students who have not purchased meal plans may also have meals delivered with a cost per meal. For information concerning meal delivery, contact Housing@westga.edu.

UWG Health Services will provide written confirmation of the diagnosis for students to present to faculty members in order to be excused from classes.  If diagnosed by a private physician, written confirmation should be requested by the student.  Students are responsible for work missed according to each individual faculty member’s policy.

When the seasonal flu vaccine becomes available to UWG Health Services, expected in early September, it will be administered on a first come-first served basis at the Health Services facility. There will be no cost to students and the cost for faculty and staff is $15.  A mass inoculation plan is in place for the Type A influenza vaccine which is expected to be available at UWG in mid-October.  This plan will include students, faculty, staff and their dependents and details will be distributed once the vaccine is on hand.

Printed influenza information cards and posters are being widely distributed throughout campus providing illness prevention suggestions.

For additional information on pandemic flu, go to http://www.flu.gov/.