Health officials at The University of Southern Mississippi are reminding students, faculty and staff to take the necessary precautions to avoid the H1N1 (swine) flu virus as a new school year quickly approaches.
There have been approximately 370 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in Mississippi since the flu strain first appeared this past spring. The state department of health has reported one fatality attributed to the virus an elementary school-age child from the Gulf Coast.
Thus far, there have been no reported cases of the H1N1 virus involving Southern Miss students. The 2009-10 fall semester begins Aug. 19.
U.S. health officials say a national vaccine for the H1N1 virus will not be available until October. However, Jodi Ryder, health educator in Student Health Services at Southern Miss, said preventive measures are already in place on campus.
Right now, were gathering the latest health information to give the students, she said. Weve got some handouts that will be providing the RAs (residence assistants) for the dorms and bulletin board material about proper hygiene and flu precautions.
Basic recommendations to avoid contracting the H1N1 virus or any other type of flu virus include the following:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or shirt sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
Avoid close contact with sick people.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way
If you get influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue stay home from work or school except to seek medical care. And limit contact with others.
If symptoms occur, see a doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis
Ryder stresses the importance of seeking medical assistance should any of the aforementioned symptoms develop.
We are fully equipped here on campus to diagnose conditions such as the flu, she said. Its convenient and cheap. We have plenty of anti-viral medications on hand to treat flu-like symptoms.
Three full-time physicians, one part-time physician and a nurse practitioner are on hand at Bedie Smith Clinic on the Southern Miss campus. The clinic is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m-4:30 p.m. on Friday. For more information call 601-266-5390.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.