Update on swine flu

The Centers for Disease Control has a web page with information about the swine flu including FAQs.

The World Health Organization raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 5. A Phase 5 alert is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region.

NAU and Coconino County health officials are staying in constant communication to monitor the swine flu outbreak that has touched Maricopa County with one confirmed case.

The university is conducting normal business operations and has called together its Incident Management Team to plan for and address any issues that may arise.

So far there are no cases in the Flagstaff area, including the NAU campus. Tests given to several students who were displaying flu-like symptoms returned negative. Those with flu-like symptoms are being treated as though it is seasonal flu and will be allowed back in their residence halls. They also will be provided with face masks as a precautionary measure.

NAU’s Fronske Health Center continues to recommend that everyone practice basic hygiene practices such as frequent hand-washing with alcohol-based hand cleaners and covering their cough or sneeze.

NAU also has issued fliers to residence halls, informing students of the outbreak, swine flu symptoms and how to avoid getting sick. The university also is staying in touch with students, faculty and staff with e-mail, web updates, Twitter and Facebook. The university will use its text messaging alert system when the situation warrants.

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting at least 91 confirmed cases in the United States, including the one in Maricopa County. A 22-month-old died in Texas. The toddler was a Mexican citizen who was flown to Houston for treatment.

The NAU Cuernavaca Summer Program, scheduled for May 9, has been canceled. Students who were scheduled to participate in this program and wish to participate in another summer study abroad program should contact the Center for International Education at (928) 523-2409 and ask to speak with a study abroad adviser.

Faculty and staff who have questions about university-sponsored international travel during the swine flu outbreak should contact NAU’s Center for International Education. For specific questions, contact Ismael Betancourt at (928) 523-2409.

The center is following recommendations from various agencies, including the CDC, Department of State and the World Health Organization, all of which are recommending that individuals avoid non-essential travel to Mexico.

“Given what we’ve seen in Mexico, we have expected that we would see more severe infections and would see deaths,” Richard Besser, acting CDC chief, told CNN.

He stressed that people should maintain their perspective on the swine flu outbreak.

“Seasonal flu each year causes tens of thousands of deaths in this country—on average, about 36,000 deaths,” Besser said. “And so this flu virus in the United States, as we’re looking at it, is not acting very differently from what we saw during the flu season.”