Dean of Nursing answers questions on H1N1

Karen Clark,  Ed D, RN, is the Dean of the School of Nursing at Indiana University East.  In addition to academic publications and presentations, and holding offices in various professional nursing organizations, Clark has a working background in community health. 

Clark recently answered questions on H1N1 as it currently pertains to the campus and community.

Q:  What do people need to know about H1N1?
A: H1N1 (formerly known as swine flu) is an influenza virus which had not been previously identifed. The virus spreads from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing. Signs and symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the symptoms experienced with other flu viruses and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some individuals who have been diagnosed with the H1N1 have also reported having diarrhea and vomiting. 

Q:  Can I get infected with this new H1N1 virus from eating or preparing pork?
A:  No. The H1N1 virus is not spread by food. You cannot get it from preparing or eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe. 

Q:  What are some basic steps that IU East faculty, staff, and students can implement to keep the flu at bay?
A: The single most important thing that IU East faculty, staff and students can do to keep from getting the flu is frequent handwashing with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners/sanitizers are also effective. Other actions that protect health include:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose of the tissue in the trash after you use it. If no tissue is available, cough/sneeze into your shirt sleeve.
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.  
  • Stay home if you are sick for at least seven days after your symptoms appear or until you have been symptom free for 24 hours whichever is longer. This will keep you from passing the virus onto others.

Q:  Do IU East students who might have traveled over Spring Break, or more recently, have anything to worry about at this point?
A:  Currently the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that individuals should monitor their health status for seven days post travel. IU East students who traveled on spring break should be past what is believed to the incubation period of the disease. However, since this virus is new, we are still finding out more daily. Should a student develop any of the symptoms of H1N1, they should contact their medical provider right away, being sure to give a history of their travel and the symptoms they are experiencing.

Q:  What about students congregating for events, or even just hanging out in the Graf?
A:   At this time there is no advisory against gathering for public events or in public places. Anyone experiencing an illness should stay home and avoid public areas. When in public places, be sure to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose as well as to wash hands after touching multi-use items to decrease the spread of germs. The IU East staff will be cleaning multi-use items and areas frequently to assist in decreasing the spread of germs as well.

Q:  With IU East Commencement fast approaching, and parents and visitors arriving here from all over, what can our guests do before, during, and after the ceremony to take precautions?
A:  At this time there are no confirmed cases of H1N1 in the Richmond area. If visitors are coming from an area where there is a confirmed case of H1N1 and they are experiencing flu symptoms, they should stay home and not travel. In fact, anyone experiencing flu symptoms should refrain from attending the graduation ceremony. While at Commencement, to prevent the spread of germs, attendees should be sure to cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes, and avoid shaking hands with others.