Western Washington UniversityEmergency Communications
DATE: April 27, 2009 1:24:13 PM PDT
Campus Health Advisory: Swine Flu

To the campus community:

As you may be aware, there are increasing reports of a unique swine flu virus (Influenza A --H1N1 type) occurring in outbreaks in numerous places around the world over the past 2-3 weeks and undoubtedly, as surveillance increases, there will be many more reports coming in over the next few days.  As a University Health Center, we are in a unique community with a population that travels extensively, so we need to be vigilant for potential cases.  Our staff will be carefully screening students on the phone and in person for symptoms of concern.

I'm including in this email the most up to date summaries of information provided by the CDC and what our approach will be this week as we handle the clinic demands that are typical this time of year, with the increased demand that will arise from the worries this virus may cause in our campus community.

There will be daily updates on our Web site at http://www.wwu.edu/chw/student_health with current information from the Whatcom County Health Dept and the Centers for Disease Control.

Summary of Swine Flu and Recommendations

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs that doesn’t normally impact humans. However, it is contagious and is currently spreading from human to human. This typically occurs the same way as seasonal flu -- by coming in contact with infected people who are coughing or sneezing.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Take this condition seriously, as swine flu varies from mild to severe. If you feel sick, contact the WWU Student Health Center at 650-3400 to talk with a nurse.  We are discouraging students from walking in without calling first so we can schedule an appointment ahead of time and minimize a wait to be seen. Faculty and staff who become ill should contact their personal care physician.

You may need to limit your contact with others so you don’t infect them. Avoid spreading germs by:

  • Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throwing that tissue out!)
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing, or using alcohol-based hand cleaners
    Source: www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm

Emergency Warning Signs

Seek emergency medical care if you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs. In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting


-Emily Gibson, M.D.
Director, Western Washington University Student Health

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