Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Case of Flu...

Here is our lab's emergency plan:


Due to the predicted threat of the H1N1 flu virus, the potentially deadly nature of the virus, and the heightened risk of contraction/spreading of the virus throughout the ____ lab, we have implemented the following plan to minimize our risk to the virus. This document includes brief background information about the virus, lab policy concerning illness, information about how to stay healthy, and information about the upcoming vaccine for the virus. 

To read more of the information concerning the H1N1 virus, please see the CDC website regarding H1N1 at  


According to the CDC, symptoms of the H1N1 include: 



-sore throat

-runny or stuffy nose

-body aches




More severe symptoms include: 



Why is the _____ lab at higher risk than normal? 

The CDC claims that young adults, who work/go to school in close proximity to one another are particularly susceptible to H1N1. In the ____ lab, we constantly work in close proximity to one another. Furthermore, we are constantly exposed to college students, who live, work and attend class in close proximity to one another. Those who live in dense urban settings, such as Chicago are also more susceptible to contracting H1N1, and a large portion of the students at the U of I are from Chicago. Finally, the high stress associated with our work could compromise our immune systems. 

What to do if you exhibit symptoms 

In order to protect others in lab from contracting the illness, if you exhibit ANY of these symptoms (including excessive coughing, runny nose, or congestion), you are required to go to the doctor (likely McKinley Health Center) as soon as possible. If you notice someone in lab exhibiting ANY of the above symptoms, you are required to ask them to please leave and to see a doctor. The sick person will not be allowed back at work until they have been cleared by a qualified physician and told that they do not have the H1N1 virus. If you are unable to get an immediate appointment, you should go home until you can get an appointment and be given a clean bill of health. If you go home due to illness, you are responsible for notifying Dr. ______, as well as anyone else in the lab with whom you may be working. 

The CDC recommends that those infected with H1N1 avoid contact with others until at least 24 hours after the symptoms go away. However, infected persons could be contagious for up to 7 days after the symptoms have been suppressed.  

Obviously, many conditions can have similar symptoms to H1N1, so, if your symptoms completely go away after a day or two, you should see the doctor again and come back to work approximately 24 hours after your symptoms subside if the doctor says you are o.k. If you have symptoms for 48 hours or more, or you develop any of the more severe symptoms at any time, e.x. (but not limited to) a high fever (>100°F, 37°C), vomiting, or diarrhea, you are required to see a doctor IMMEDIATELY and to be tested for the virus. 

If you are found to have the virus, you should not return to work until you are no longer contagious. 

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy, according to the CDC:

  • Stay informed. This website ( will be updated regularly as information becomes available.
  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
    • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information 

Vaccine information 

There is a vaccine that is scheduled to be available sometime this fall. Please keep in mind that the general flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine are different things. If you decide to get the vaccine, please make sure you receive the proper one. While anyone can receive the vaccine, the CDC recommends that those who specifically fit any of the following criteria be vaccinated against the virus:

  • Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants less than 6 months old might help protect infants by "cocooning" them from the virus;
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel because infections among healthcare workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce healthcare system capacity;
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
    • Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in children and they are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and
    • Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and,
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Information about where to go to get the vaccine will be released by the state government once the vaccine has become available.

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