NMU Monitors Swine Flu Situation

NMU has been closely monitoring the international Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak for potential implications related to students currently in Mexico, upcoming faculty-led study abroad programs and large-group gatherings on campus. The World Health Organization recently raised its alert level to Phase 5, the second-highest on its worldwide threat scale, indicating a pandemic could be imminent.

“We stay updated through the Michigan Health Alert Network, which is coordinated by the Michigan Department of Community Health,” said Dr. Thomas Schacht (Health Center). “The Health Center also participates in the U.S. Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network run by the MDCH and the Centers for Disease Control. During the typical flu season, which wrapped up a few weeks ago, we report cases and provide specimens to help monitor the types of viruses circulating in our area. Currently we are screening the travel and contact histories of any patients who come in with fever and flu-like symptoms and we can send specimens for additional testing if warranted.  We haven't had any cases here at Northern, but we’re keeping a close eye on it.”

University administrators met recently to discuss this issue. At last report, two students who just finished a study abroad program in Mexico with an NMU partner institution and another who enrolled independently at a Mexican institution have elected to remain in the country for the time being. Schacht said a faculty-led program to Mexico slated to begin next week has been postponed, but not yet canceled. Other planned summer overseas programs to Argentina, Honduras, Vienna and Peru are being evaluated. NMU also made a decision to move forward with this weekend’s commencement activities based on the most recent information available.

According to Ann Sherman (Human Resources), the CDC has told institutions of higher education to alert faculty, staff and students to follow everyday preventative actions, which Northern is doing via the Web.

"One of the everyday pieces of advice is that if you get influenza-like illness symptoms, stay home from work or school except to seek medical care and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them,” she added. “Illness of this sort is the purpose for our comprehensive sick leave policies. Please be considerate of your fellow employees and limit contact with others should you exhibit flu-like symptoms. Any absence of more than three days should be reported to the Human Resources office."

The Health Center Web site includes information on symptoms of virus and preventive measures recommended by the CDC. Visit Swine Flu.


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Updated: May 1, 2009

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