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Archive for September, 2009

Updated: Human resources guidelines for UW-Madison employees, supervisors

September 11, 2009, 8:09 pm

The Office of Human Resources has prepared a set of UW-Madison guidelines for how flu-like symptoms should be handled in the workplace. The guidelines outlined in the documents are now in effect.

The key component of the guidelines involves telling employees to either stay home or go home if they have flu-like symptoms (fever greater than 100 degrees and either sore throat or cough). An employee’s return to the workplace is predicated on being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. The standards were developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, the university will not ask for employees to routinely secure a health care provider justification when they indicate a flu-like illness. Update: On Sept. 11, the Board of Regents granted a temporary waiver of the policy requiring a doctor’s note for absences of more than five days. The cover memo and guidelines have been updated to reflect the change.

Read the Human Resources Cover Memo (PDF).

Read the Flu Pandemic Planning HR Guidelines (PDF).

Posted in Email messages to campus, Faculty and staff info

UW-Madison flu outbreak confirmed as H1N1

September 8, 2009, 3:09 pm

As of Sept. 1, University Health Services (UHS) began seeing a marked increase in patients with flu-like symptoms (including fever greater than 100 degrees F, and either cough or sore throat).

Preliminary results from surveillance cultures performed by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene indicate that H1N1 is the predominant strain of influenza causing these symptoms. To date, 81 percent of the patient specimens have tested positive for H1N1, with testing yet to be completed on the rest.

“Based on our preliminary results and trends elsewhere in the state, it won’t be surprising if 90 percent or more of these cases eventually come back as H1N1,” says Craig Roberts, UHS epidemiologist. Read more »

Posted in Campus updates, Health precautions

Background on ILI Reporting

September 8, 2009, 3:09 pm

View the most recent UHS ILI surveillance report (PDF)

Influenza-like illness (ILI) is defined as the presence of fever greater than 100 degrees F with cough or sore throat in the absence of a known cause. This is the standard surveillance definition of ILI used by public health epidemiologists to track the incidence of influenza over time. It is intentionally broad to permit a simple measure of counting influenza cases seen in outpatient primary care clinics. However, it will also occasionally count persons with illness caused by other respiratory viruses. Thus it is not highly specific for influenza.

ILI case surveillance is conducted by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (DPH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tracking this activity is how public health officials determine when each year’s flu season begins and when it peaks. ILI data collected by UHS follows the standard format used by these agencies.

UHS is a designated sentinel surveillance site and reports its ILI data weekly to the DPH, CDC and the American College Health Association (ACHA) as part of an established network of similar sites across the state and country.

UHS also does surveillance laboratory testing for respiratory viruses following protocols implemented by WDPH and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH). Once influenza has been determined to be present in a community most routine testing is discontinued. A small sample of patients continue to be tested weekly to monitor trends in both influenza types and drug-resistance patterns.

Links to Other Surveillance Data

Wisconsin ILI surveillance (DPH)

Wisconsin laboratory surveillance data (WSLH)

U.S. ILI surveillance (CDC)

U.S. colleges and universities ILI surveillance (ACHA)

Description of surveillance methods and historical data for the U.S

ILI reports are compiled by UHS epidemiologist Craig Roberts, M.S., PA-C.

Posted in Health precautions

Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) reports from UHS

September 8, 2009, 2:09 pm

Every Tuesday, University Health Services (UHS) will post summary statistics about cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) seen in its clinic during the previous week. These numbers represent surveillance data only and are a useful marker for measuring the extent of influenza illness in the campus community. This is not to be considered a comprehensive count of all illness on campus.

Link to Week 1: Aug. 31-Sept. 5, 2009

Read more about ILI reporting background

Posted in Campus updates

Take care of your health this weekend

September 4, 2009, 5:09 pm

UHS Director Sarah Van Orman, M.D., is reminding UW-Madison students this afternoon to consider their health and the health of others this holiday weekend as campus engages in social gatherings, activities and home football. Among her key advice:

–If you’re already experiencing any flu-like symptoms at all (fever with sore throat or cough), please don’t go to social gatherings, the football game or work. Call your parents and consider going home, if they can pick you up. (Please don’t take public transportation.)

– Keep in mind that sharing cups, water bottles, drinks or cigarettes is a very effective way to transmit flu virus. Drinking alcohol doesn’t kill influenza. Remember to practice good hand washing and covering of coughs or sneezes.

– Most people can recover from flu on their own in matter of days, without medical treatment, by drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest. However, students who need medical advice this weekend can call UHS at (608) 265-5600. (If you have a “high- risk” medical condition, contact your healthcare provider.)

Read the full message.

Read a new UHS guide to self-care, isolation and recovery.

Read a new checklist for self-care, isolation and recovery.

Posted in Email messages to campus, Health precautions, Student info

Van Orman: Taking care of your health this weekend

September 4, 2009, 5:09 pm

UW-Madison Students,

As you know, this week UHS began seeing sick students who have come down with influenza. I know this weekend is a busy one, full of social gatherings and fun.

As you’re out this weekend, I’d remind you to consider your health and the health of others. You’ve already heard a lot from us in the past week, so I’ll keep our advice brief:

–If you’re already experiencing any flu-like symptoms at all (fever with sore throat or cough), please don’t go to social gatherings, the football game or work. Call your parents and consider going home, if they can pick you up. (Please don’t take public transportation.)

– Keep in mind that sharing cups, water bottles, drinks or cigarettes is a very effective way to transmit flu virus. Drinking alcohol doesn’t kill influenza. Remember to practice good hand washing and covering of coughs or sneezes.

– Most people can recover from flu on their own in matter of days, without medical treatment, by drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest. However, students who need medical advice this weekend can call UHS at (608) 265-5600. (If you have a “high- risk” medical condition, contact your healthcare provider.)

For more information on these topics, including a guide to self-care and recovery, visit http://flu.wisc.edu. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for there, email pandemicinfo@mhub.uwpd.wisc.edu.

Posted in Email messages to campus, Health precautions, Student info

Parent Program Update: Influenza information for UW-Madison parents

September 4, 2009, 4:09 pm

The following message was sent to 10,000 members of the UW-Madison Parent Program from Sarah Van Orman, M.D., director of UHS.

Dear UW-Madison Parent or Guardian,

As the chief campus health officer, I want to take a few minutes of your time to update you on H1N1 influenza virus, or “swine flu,” on campus this fall and the ways you can assist our efforts.

Because H1N1 is known to be highly contagious among young people, the campus prepared very actively over the summer for the possibility that flu cases would start to rise soon after students arrived back on campus. Before classes began, every student received an email from Chancellor Biddy Martin and one from the Dean of Students and myself, outlining our expectations for this unusual semester and describing the best precautions students could take to safeguard their own health and help limit the spread of disease on campus. Read more »

Posted in Email messages to campus, Parent info

Student influenza cases appear at UW-Madison

September 3, 2009, 10:09 am

As has been widely expected, UW-Madison officials have received reports this week that some students have come down with symptoms characteristic of influenza.

University Health Services (UHS) has also begun seeing more patients than usual for this time of year with flu-like symptoms (including fever and cough or sore throat).

“This is what we’ve prepared for,” says Sarah Van Orman, MD, executive director of UHS. “This is also what many other schools around the country are experiencing, and this is why every member of the campus has received at least one message about influenza precautions and preparedness in the past week. Read more »

Posted in Faculty and staff info, Health precautions, Parent info, Student info

What You Can Do About the Flu (PDF)

General questions about UW–Madison's response to flu issues? E-mail Pandemic Info Hub for answers.

Need urgent medical advice?
Students: Call UHS at (608) 265-5600

Faculty, staff: Contact your health care provider