Swine flu case makes way onto RPI campus

Rensselaer had its first case of confirmed “influenza-like illness,” according to an e-mail from Medical Director of the Health Center Leslie Lawrence. The illness is believed to be the H1N1 influenza, more commonly known as swine flu.

The affected student—who had previously resided in Barton—has been relocated to an isolation room in the new Howard Blitman Residence Commons on Sixth Avenue, as stipulated in the Institute’s plan for managing the H1N1 virus. All students suspected to have H1N1 will be monitored on a daily basis by the Health Center’s medical staff.

Lawrence stated in the e-mail that, “Rensselaer has been preparing for the onset of a difficult flu season, and our advance planning should allow us to minimize the impact of H1N1 on the campus community.”

On a more positive note, the H1N1 vaccine received approval from the FDA last Tuesday, which indicates that studies have proven the vaccine to be both safe and effective. Though the CDC is still stating that the first vaccine shipments should begin around mid-October, no firm date has been set yet for when the vaccine will be available at Rensselaer.

Students, faculty, and staff have been urged to contact the Health Center immediately if they experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever (over 100 degrees), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and, less frequently, diarrhea and vomiting.

Students suffering from illness have been urged not to attend class until at least 24 hours after their fevers normalize. Faculty and research staff have been told to do the same, and professors have been asked to send home any student who appears ill. In addition, they will help ill students make up for lost time in the classroom.

Students should remember to wash their hands often and take advantage of the hand sanitizer dispensers being installed across campus. Rensselaer has created a website to keep the Institute community abreast of what is happening on campus regarding H1N1. Information about signs and symptoms of H1N1, prevention tips, and campus status of the flu can be found at http://www.rpi.edu/about/flu/.