Flu update for students

Dear Cornell student:

H1N1 flu is on the rise on college campuses, just as predicted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the health care community. Cornell is no exception.

Gannett has seen or spoken with more than 140 students with influenza-like illness in the past two weeks. Since the new H1N1 virus is causing almost all cases of influenza in the country at this time, it is clear that the predicted second wave of H1N1 flu has come to Cornell. One student living off campus has been hospitalized with complications related to the flu; but most students we've seen so far have had relatively mild illness and recovered fully with little or no intervention. Gannett is working closely with the New York State Department of Health, following public health guidance regarding testing, treatment, and surveillance.

As we move into the long holiday weekend, we remind you that Gannett Health Services will be open Saturday (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) and Monday (8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.); and a health care provider is available for phone consultation whenever Gannett is closed. Please: Be vigilant about your own health and take recommended precautions to prevent further spread of illness. You know what to do: wash your hands; cover coughs and sneezes; clean shared objects and surfaces; avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes; keep your distance from people who are sick.

Certain medical conditions put people at a higher risk of serious complications related to the flu. These include asthma, diabetes, pregnancy, and heart, lung, liver, and kidney disease. (People 65 years and older and children younger than 5 years old also have increased risk.) If you have any of these conditions, you should consult with Gannett as soon as flu-like symptoms develop, or following recent close contact with someone who has the flu.

Symptoms of flu usually come on suddenly and include fever and one or more of the following: cough, fatigue, sore throat, body aches, vomiting, headache.

If you develop flu-like symptoms, you should:

  • Stay in your room, out of circulation, and at least 6 feet away from any one who shares your living space until you have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication). This is important for your recovery, as well as the health of others in your community. Drink plenty of fluids, eat small meals, and use Tylenol (not aspirin), throat lozenges, and decongestants to reduce symptoms.
  • Call Gannett at (607) 255-5155 any time of day or night if you have questions or concerns about your symptoms, health, or ability to care for yourself. We will help you and direct you to other resources to support your needs.

H1N1 influenza causes mild to moderate flu symptoms for most people. If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should call Gannett (ANYTIME) without delay:

  • Fever of over 101.5 degrees lasting for more than three days
  • Severe sore throat, accompanied by swollen glands in your neck
  • Change in level of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Unidentified rash

For information about public health guidelines related to testing and use of antiviral medications, go to: www.gannett.cornell.edu/campushealth/Influenza/medical_intervention.html


Janet Corson-Rikert, MD
Executive Director, Gannett Health Services