Loyola responds to first H1N1 case
Loyola press release - August 31, 2009
A first-year student at Loyola University New Orleans has tested positive for the H1N1 flu virus and is being treated at his parents’ home for the virus. This is the only known case of H1N1 at Loyola.
The student, who is not being identified for privacy reasons, came to campus on Friday, Aug. 28, before he fell ill. The student’s parents, who live in New Orleans, have taken him home to rest and recover. Loyola’s custodial contractor is disinfecting the student’s room and hallway in his residence hall, and students who may have come into contact with him have been advised to go to Student Health Services if they exhibit any flu-like symptoms.
Students who become symptomatic and/or test positive for H1N1 will be asked to leave campus residences and return home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. If returning home is not an option, sick students will be asked to isolate themselves in their residence hall rooms until they are fever-free for 24 hours, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Residence hall staff will coordinate with Loyola Dining Services to have meals delivered to sick students and a nurse practitioner will be in daily contact with them to advise on self-care and self-isolation procedures.
In preparation for the new academic year and students’ return to the university, key Loyola faculty and staff members have been meeting regularly to review CDC and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Public Health recommendations and guidelines on preventing, identifying and containing the spread of the virus.
Student Health Services and the University Counseling Center have distributed flyers and posters to campus departments and will continue to send campus-wide e-mails with information about symptoms and treatment. Every student received swine flu information at orientation on Friday, Aug. 28. Additionally, staff with the Office of Residential Life has been trained on how to prevent and recognize flu symptoms and the steps to take should a student show symptoms.
Antibacterial hand sanitizers have been placed in Student Affairs offices, residence halls, Student Health Services and other buildings on campus. Masks are available upon request at Student Health Services, and Loyola will offer vaccinations for the seasonal flu strains, until the swine flu vaccination becomes available for distribution.
As a precaution, Dining Services is evaluating its dish sanitation process to make sure all protocols are being followed. They are also placing hand sanitizers in the dining areas and re-emphasizing hand washing requirements to staff.
Loyola’s H1N1 task force grew out of a similar working group established in 2007 by Vice President of Student Affairs M.L. Petty, Ph.D., to address the avian flu outbreak.
“More than two years ago, I requested the director of counseling and health services study and create our pandemic flu plan,” Petty said, “so this is not new to us.”
“Our group, led by Dr. Alicia Bourque, includes Loyola administrators and others with vast knowledge and contacts in public health.”
H1N1, which was first detected in people in the U.S. in April 2009, is spread from person to person in much the same way as regular seasonal influenza viruses spread, according to the CDC. People can spread swine flu to others through shaking hands, coughing, sneezing or touching objects contaminated by the virus and then touching their mouths, eyes or noses.
However, much can be done to prevent its spread.
The CDC suggests frequent hand washing with antibacterial soap, especially after coughing or sneezing, and using alcohol-based hand cleaners to guard against the flu. They also advise using tissues to cover coughs or sneezes and then immediately discarding them.
Flu-like symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills or fatigue. 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.
For more information, please contact the Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5888.