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ND encourages H1N1 flu prevention

Madeline Buckley | Friday, August 21, 2009

When shopping for basic back-to-school items, did you remember to grab a disposable thermometer?

Although not generally part of the average student’s shopping list, Notre Dame Health Services is encouraging all students to be equipped with one to recognize flu symptoms, according to Director Ann Kleva.

Part of an education initiative to help students prevent seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus (commonly referred to as swine flu) and recognize symptoms, Kleva said Health Services is also encouraging students to bring an alcohol-based sanitizer, Kleenex, throat lozenges and a disposable paper mask.

“Our biggest emphasis is going to be encouraging students to take personal responsibility for good hygiene and healthy habits,” she said.

Because of widespread swine flu contractions worldwide, Health Services resurrected an old germ-fighting campaign with the tag line: “Be a ‘Notre Dame Germ Fighter’… remain ‘Flu-less, not Clueless!'”

In April and May, two Notre Dame students contracted swine flu and fully recovered.

Kleva said Health Services plans to hang posters on campus instructing students on healthy practices, such as the best way to sneeze to minimize germ spread.

“We know it’s going to be difficult with kids having beginning of the school year parties and the first football games,” she said. “We know there’s going to be exposure on campus and we are trying to limit that exposure.”

But Kleva said the University is prepared for any flu outbreak.

“We have purchased more masks and more disposable thermometers,” she said. “In the waiting rooms, we will have students with identified flu symptoms waiting separately so a student in for a strain or sprain isn’t sitting next to a student with the flu.”

The biggest message of the campaign, though, is prevention.

Kleva said a good rule of thumb is to stay about six feet away from a person who is exhibiting flu symptoms.

“Students should always cough into their sleeves and if they sneeze into a tissue, throw it into a correct receptacle immediately,” she said. “Germs can stay alive on a surface that’s not cleansed with disinfect for two hours so if you cough and then use a computer in the lab, germs can stay on the keyboard for two hours after.”

Healthy eating and good sleeping habits as well as frequently washing hands are also necessities, she said.

“There is no true cure or preventive measure for the flu,” Kleva said. “We will just hopefully get our messages out to offer support and education for seasonal and H1N1 flu.”