The University Responds to The Hamidemic
Written by Bwog Staff
News that swine flu may be “linked” to a TC student has put Columbia’s email systems in overdrive, as administrators have made various “community-wide” announcements about the flu. Executive VP for Student and Administrative Services Jeff Scott announced yesterday to faculty and staff that “Currently, there are no changes to University operations or activities based on these public health recommendations.” Students will be receiving a similar email from Health Services Assistant VP Samuel Seward later today, which will also include prevention tips.
UPDATE 8:05pm: Seward has officially issued the long awaited second email with a number of ingenious tips for keeping yourself swine flu free, like washing your hands, washing things your hands touch, and using a tissue instead of your sleeve. Full updated email with all the anti-sick tips you could ever want after the jump.
On the Barnard side of Broadway, Barnard Health Services has sent an email to all students outlining the symptoms of swine flu (“Runny nose, sneezing, fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, occasionally vomiting and/or diarrhea”). Barnard’s email was all over the health tips in the first place – it suggests, along with more standard health tips, that you “avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth,” which sounds like a great party game.
As for the original possible case, TC Vice-Provost Iriada Torres told Bwog, “Unfortunately, we have no additional information regarding the type of influenza the student was infected with but we have been told that the student is recovering nicely.” Finally, earlier today President Barack Obama said that schools with confirmed or suspected cases should “strongly consider temporarily closing,” which we think is a great idea. Full Columbia and Barnard statements after the jump.
– JCD & CEE
As you may know, several confirmed cases of mild swine flu have been
identified in New York City and, though this has not been confirmed,
at Teachers College.
Columbia will follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) and other appropriate agencies in fashioning the
University’s responses to a matter of understandable public concern.
Currently, there are no changes to University operations or activities
based on these public health recommendations. The federal CDC has
issued a recommendation to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico during
The best thing everyone can do at the present time is to practice
normal precautionary hygiene such as regular hand-washing. If you have
flu-like symptoms, it is recommended that you stay home from work or
school and avoid public activities.
If you have specific questions related to the current situation, our staff
in Health Services would be happy to hear from you and can be reached at
Tips for Preventing the Flu:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you
cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or the elbow of your arm
when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
4. Get an influenza shot annually. The current influenza vaccine
formulation is not protective against avian or swine influenza. However,
a recent study suggests annual influenza immunization of the elderly
has a cumulative protective effect, resulting in reduced mortality,
particularly in older individuals.
5. Clean things that are touched often. Clean things that are touched
often at home, work, or school like door or refrigerator handles,
computer key boards / mouse, phone and water faucets.
6. Avoid close contact with others who are ill. Avoid holding, hugging
or kissing anyone who has a cold or the flu.
For ongoing updates and more prevention tips, please visit:
University leadership continues to monitor the situation closely and
will keep you informed of any developments that affect the CU community.
Additionally, if you are interested in monitoring updates on your own,
the most recent information is available on the CDC website:
Samuel Seward, M.D.
Assistant Vice President
Health Services at Columbia
In light of the current concern about swine flu, we want you to know that the Health Service staff and leadership of the College are keeping informed and connected to both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York City Department of Health (NYC DOH). The information changes by the hour; at this moment, over 40 cases have been confirmed at St. Francis Preparatory High School in Queens, and a handful of new probable cases have been identified elsewhere in New York City. All patients in NYC are said to be recovering, and the overwhelming majority have been only mildly ill.
The symptoms of swine flu include the following:
*Runny nose, sneezing
*Headache, body aches
*Occasionally vomiting and/or diarrhea
The most important thing you can do to lower your risk of infection is to wash your hands frequently (with either hand sanitizer or soap and water). In addition, you should
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
*Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
*Avoid close contact with individuals with symptoms of a cold or the flu.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Please check the Barnard homepage for ongoing updates. You may also want to visit www.cdc.gov or the NYC Department of Health website for further information.
Marjorie Seidenfeld, MD
Director of the Health Service
Brenda Slade, NP