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Loyola closely monitors swine flu outbreak

Loyola press release - April 27, 2009

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus have been identified in several U.S. states. Although no known cases of swine influenza have been discovered in Louisiana, health officials at Loyola University New Orleans are taking precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus.

Swine flu, a respiratory disease of pigs that does not normally impact humans, is contagious, however, much can be done to prevent its spread. Humans can spread swine flu to other humans through direct contact, much like how seasonal flu is transmitted. This includes person-to-person transmission though shaking hands, coughing or sneezing. According to the CDC, people may become infected by touching objects with flu viruses and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose. It is important to note that the virus cannot be transmitted through consuming properly cooked pork.

Although there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in Louisiana, Loyola University New Orleans is taking a proactive stance in case that changes. We are following the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations regarding prevention,” said Alicia Bourque, Ph.D., director of Counseling and Health Services at Loyola.

The CDC suggests that the best way to guard against the flu is with frequent hand washing with antibacterial soap, especially after coughing or sneezing, or by using alcohol-based hand cleaners. They also advise that tissues should be used to cover a cough or sneeze, then immediately discarded.

Loyola University is advising the campus community to take these precautionary measures in response to the situation.

“We are encouraging proactive behavior among our faculty, staff and students such as washing hands, covering mouths when coughing, and too, asking community members to monitor their health symptoms,” said Cissy Petty, vice president for Student Affairs. “If flu-like symptoms appear, then we are encouraging folks to go immediately to the health center or their physician.”

Flu-like symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills or fatigue.

To help inform the campus community, Student Health Services and Counseling Services have distributed postcards to students and employees and sent a campus-wide e-mail with information about swine flu symptoms and treatment.

Additionally, complimentary antibacterial hand sanitizers have been made available in Student Affairs offices and in all of the residence halls on campus. Masks are available upon request at the Student Health Center, located in the lower level of the Danna Student Center.

As a precaution, Loyola Dining Services is evaluating its dish sanitation process to make sure that ordinary protocol is being followed. They are also placing hand sanitizers in the dining areas and re-emphasizing hand washing requirements to its staff.

According to Leah Bowers, Student Health Services nurse practitioner, clinic personnel can swab to detect flu on location and can prescribe appropriate medications as needed. The Student Health Center is open 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and appointments are encouraged by calling 504-865-3326. Bowers said Health Services will remain in regular contact with the Louisiana Department of Health and Environmental Safety to stay abreast of the situation.

Information about swine flu and the university’s response can now be found on the Loyola website, www.loyno.edu. To learn more about swine flu, and how to protect against its spread, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm.