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Monitoring Swine Flu Outbreaks

Memorandum from President Kerwin

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As I am certain you are already aware, human cases of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus infection “swine influenza” have recently been identified in the United States and other countries.  I want to let you know how this situation may affect our community.

This novel influenza A virus had not previously been identified in humans; however, human-to-human transmission of the virus now appears to be continuing.  The confirmed cases so far in the U.S. are reported to have exhibited mild symptoms.  Symptoms of “swine influenza” infection include fever plus a cough or sore throat and possibly runny nose, congestion, headache, chills and/or fatigue.  

AU is working cooperatively with local and federal health departments and other regional agencies to monitor this rapidly evolving situation.  At this time, there are no cases in the District of Columbia, but that could change as the numbers and locations of cases around the nation and world continue to grow.

In the event that there is a confirmed case on our campus, American University will follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to mitigate influenza transmission in the AU community.  At this time, we do not plan to alter our normal activities to an appreciable extent.  Any adjustments regarding international programs will be communicated on an individual basis.  Should that situation change, you will be notified.

To protect yourself and others against the spread of germs, including “swine influenza,” D.C. Health recommends that you take these simple but important steps:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with those who have symptoms of flu.
  • If you get sick with the influenza, the health department recommends that you limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them. 

Anyone experiencing the described flu-like symptoms should stay home, contact their physician, and alert their supervisor of their absence.  This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will keep you informed as more information becomes available.