Action Plan of the University of Pretoria to try and minimize the spread of Influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) infections



What is swine flu?

Influenza A/H1N1 (also known as swine flu) is an acute upper respiratory tract infection which is highly infectious. Under normal circumstances the disease is usually mild and patients recover within 5-7 days.

However, high risk individuals (HIV-infected and other immunocompromised patients, individuals with diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases or who are obese) are vulnerable to severe complications should they be infected by this virus, in which case the disease can become much more severe and the patients most probably will have to be hospitalised.

How does it spread?


By close contact with an individual who is infected with the H1N1-virus.

How can an infected person avoid spreading the virus?


• Avoid close contact with other people for up to 7 days.
• Do not participate in any group or sports activities.
• Follow the correct cough and sneezing etiquette - cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.
• Discard used tissues immediately in a dustbin or flush them down a toilet.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

How does one avoid contracting the infection?

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
• Keep distances of at least 2 metres from suspected cases or those showing influenza-like symptoms.
• Wearing of masks is not recommended, but strict personal hygiene is essential.

How do you know if you have A/H1N1?

1. You will experience a sudden onset of fever (38oC or higher)
2. In addition, you will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
• sore throat
• runny or blocked nose
• cough
• body ache
• diarrhoea
• vomiting

What should you do if you suspect you have influenza A/H1N1?


Follow the steps below:

DAY STUDENTS

Step1: Consult your doctor immediately

• During working hours you can visit a doctor in private practice (if you have medical aid) or visit the campus doctor at Student Health Services in Roper Street. Note: To prevent the spread of the disease you are requested not to wait in the regular waiting room, but to use the waiting area that has been erected outside the building.
• After hours the Student Health Services and other Health Clinics will be closed and you will have to visit a private practitioner or go the Emergency Medicine Department (Casualty) of a hospital. It is thus advisable that you try to rather seek medical help during the daytime.

Step 2. Follow the doctor's orders

• If you are diagnosed as having contracted Influenza A/H1N1 it would be best for you to return home for at least a week (or until you have recovered).
• If the doctor diagnoses a mild degree of the illness, you will be asked to try and avoid close contact with other people, to refrain from any physical activity and get complete bed rest for up to 7 days. Please note, however, if you do not improve but become progressively more ill, please get further medical advice and help immediately.
• If the doctor diagnoses a severe degree of illness, you most probably will be hospitalised. Please notify your family.

RESIDENCE STUDENTS

Step 1: Consult a doctor immediately.

• During working hours you can visit a doctor in private practice (if you have medical aid) or visit the campus doctor at Student Health Services in Roper Street. Note: To prevent the spread of the disease you are requested not to wait in the regular waiting room, but to use the waiting area that has been erected outside the building.
• After hours please inform your Head of Residence or EC member. Procedures have been put in place whereby you will either be taken to the Little Company of Mary Hospital or a visit by a qualified sister to your residence for a preliminary diagnosis will be arranged.

Step 2: Report to your Head of Residence

• It is important that you inform your Head of Residence (either in person or per sms) on the outcome of your visit to the doctor.

Step 3. Follow the doctor's orders very conscientiously.

• If you are diagnosed as having contracted Influenza A/H1N1 it would by far be best for you to return home for at least a week (or until you have recovered).
• If the doctor diagnoses a mild degree of the illness :
o If you are able to return home, you will be asked to try and avoid close contact with other people, to refrain from any physical activity and get complete bed rest for up to 7 days. While at home it is advisable that you try to avoid spreading the disease to other family members by taking the precautionary steps described above. Please note, however, if you do not improve but become progressively more ill, please get further medical advice and help immediately.
o If you are not able to return home procedures have been put in place whereby you will be isolated from other residence students until you are no longer infectious. A nursing sister will visit you daily to monitor your progress and meals will be sent to you.
• If the doctor diagnoses a severe degree of illness, you most probably will be hospitalised. Please notify your family.


I trust that we will be spared a widespread epidemic at the University. The Department of Medical Virology and Division of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine will pro-actively follow the spread of the epidemic on Campus and advise us about possible other measures to be implemented. Thus, this action plan is subject to continuous review pending the severity of the anticipated epidemic. We will keep you informed of the situation.


Prof NJ Grove
Registrar

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