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When the flu comes: Handwashing is only a start

On Thursday (Aug. 27) you received the following message from Chancellor Martin. This is very important. Please take time to read this and further messages on this topic. Note in particular the part about staying home and making accommodations for others to do the same when necessary.

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continued to
track the spread of novel H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) since the first
cases were identified in the U.S. last April.
Based on the pattern of disease during the summer, the CDC projects that
the number of people who contract this disease could increase dramatically
beginning this fall. College campuses are areas of particular concern, as
this strain of influenza has proven to be more infectious in young adults
than the seasonal flu we typically experience.

UW-Madison will undoubtedly experience its share of influenza this fall,
and a campus committee has spent the past several years creating and
refining plans for dealing with such a possibility. As a community, we must
do everything in our power to protect the health and well-being of our
students, faculty, staff and visitors while we maintain our campus missions
of teaching, learning and research by limiting the spread of disease.

Although the vast majority of people have made a full recovery from the
H1N1 virus without medical treatment, even a mild case of influenza is an
undesirable experience, as symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat,
headache, extreme fatigue and body aches. In a minority of cases,
particularly when people have certain pre-existing medical conditions,
complications may result. Both globally and in Wisconsin, H1N1 has caused
hospitalization and deaths. Large numbers of cases on campus have the
ability to cause serious disruption in all our work.
The important practices I am asking us all to adopt to limit the spread of
the disease on campus are:

— washing our hands frequently and thoroughly throughout the day; — shielding others by coughing or sneezing into our sleeves or disposable
tissues;
— and, most importantly, if we develop flu-like symptoms (fever with a
cough and/or sore throat), following the CDC guidelines to stay home from work and class and limit contact with others until we are completely free of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. The CDC estimates this will take three to five days for most people.

I recognize that staying home when sick will require a shift in our campus
culture, as most of us are accustomed to following through with our
commitments even when ill. I cannot stress enough that in this unusual
semester, being a good citizen of this campus will actually mean staying
home and NOT coming to work or class with a fever. The CDC reports that
people shed the most influenza virus during the days they are feverish,
which means that staying home is crucial to lowering the overall disease
risk.
Accomplishing this will require additional flexibility on our policies on
absences and class and work attendance. Depending on your role on campus,
we will provide additional guidance in these areas in the coming days.

I’d ask you to continue to stay informed on this issue by visiting
<http://flu.wisc.edu>, our Influenza Web site. You will also likely receive
e-mail messages from me or other administrators and state officials
providing important updates. Please take the time to read them.
After reviewing the site, I also welcome you to e-mail questions to
<pandemicinfo@mhub.uwpd.wisc.edu>.
Thanks for your time and attention. I am certain that this situation will
continue to evolve and will require agility and flexibility on all of our
parts. But I am confident we can address these challenges together.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Biddy Martin

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