2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Information

September  10, 2009

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the latest public information on 2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) on their website.

You can find additional information about the H1N1 Flu in Washington and King County on their web sites.

The health and safety of our students and employees is paramount and for this purpose, the College is taking preventive measures and is prepared to address the situation if cases of the virus appear on our campuses.

As you may recall, last May, information regarding the H1N1 (Swine flu) virus was distributed to the College community. The current situation indicates that the potential exists for a severe outbreak which may have a more significant impact. Following is an update to the information previously distributed. This information will also be presented at the Rapid Day session on Wednesday, September 16.

In March of 2009 Public Health Agencies detected a new strain of the H1N1 influenza virus which is part of the current Swine flu outbreak. Investigations conducted by Health organizations revealed the outbreaks of influenza-like illness were detected in three areas initially in Mexico and soon after in the United States and Canada. Although the severity of flu outbreaks during the fall and winter of 2009-10 is unpredictable, more communities may be affected than were affected in spring/summer 2009, reflecting wider transmission and possibly greater impact. Most recently, cases of the influenza virus have been identified in the State of Washington, particularly at Washington State University.

The health and safety of our students and employees is paramount and for this purpose, the College is taking preventive measures and is prepared to address the situation if cases of the virus appear on our campuses.

The College's objectives in preparing for the H1N1 virus are:

  • Protect overall health of the College community;
  •  Protect overall public health;
  • Protect people with high risk conditions;
  • Reduce transmission of the virus in students, faculty, and staff.

How is LWIT planning to handle the H1N1 virus:

  • Promote "Self Isolation" by encouraging students, faculty, and staff to be careful, practice good hygiene and stay home when they are ill;
  • Encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette by emphasizing the importance of basic foundations of flu prevention: stay home when sick, wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and cover noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available);
  • Dscourage attendance at College events by people with flu-like illness from attending any events until they have been fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours and to encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
  • Install hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the College for all departments, classrooms, and common areas.
  • Distribute boxes of tissue throughout the College;
  • Perform extra "high touch" cleaning in restrooms and classrooms using Hepastat 256 (certified in killing many Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi including Influenza type A);
  • Don't over-react to individual cases, however, if conditions are severe enough the College needs to be prepared to take necessary action;
  • Authority for faculty and supervisors to send individual students or staff that are displaying flu-like symptoms home.
  • If it is necessary to cancel a class, the faculty member should immediately contact their dean for approval;
  • Encourage all students, faculty, and staff to obtain flu shots as a preventive measure;
  • Communicate by providing any updates, information from local health agencies, etc.

Continuity of Service:

  • The President has the authority to close the College and suspend all classes in the event of a public health emergency;
  • The College will work with and coordinate with the appropriate health agencies in the event a decision is to be made regarding possible closure;
  • Re-active closure is possible when we cannot maintain normal functioning of the College;
  • Pre-emptive closure is possible if the CDC or local health agencies determine that the flu has started to cause severe disease in a larger population;
  • Encourage faculty and staff to take precautions to stay well, but also encourage them to have back-up plans for covering their classes/essential job duties should they become ill.
  • All departments should plan to function with fewer staff and to consider how they will function/provide services;

If a confirmed case of H1N1 appears on campus, it should be immediately reported to the appropriate Vice President's office so the Executive Cabinet can begin communication to assess the situation. Please advise your students and staff to immediately notify you in the event a documented case of the virus appears on our campus.

Below is the section of the College's Emergency Management Plan that addresses a public health emergency. In addition, below this section is information regarding the ongoing measures taken by our Facilities Department, implemented May 1, 2009.

Please feel free to share with students and others as the opportunity arises. This information will also be updated on the College's website.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Bill Thomas
Vice President, Administrative Services
Lake Washington Institution of Technology
11605 132nd Avenue NE
Kirkland, WA 98034-8506
(425) 739-8201

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

The Governor or local public health officials may declare a state of emergency for public health reasons such as a pandemic or epidemic. A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease in many countries at the same time. An epidemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs in one or several limited areas, like a city, state, or country.

In the event of a public health concern of a pandemic or epidemic nature, the President or designee, may declare a state of emergency for the College and implement emergency procedures including the closure of the College. If the decision is to close the College, the emergency notification will be through the College Emergency Alert system including phone trees, email, www.schoolreport.org, or text messaging. Students and staff are advised to receive College closure and cancellation alerts directly by signing up for the LWTC Emergency Alert System at http://webapps.lwtc.edu/CampusAlerts/Login.aspx.

What can you expect if a pandemic or epidemic occurs? It's not possible to prevent or stop a pandemic or epidemic once it begins. A person may be infected and contagious before the onset of symptoms, making it extremely easy for the virus or bacteria to spread rapidly to large numbers of people. When a pandemic or epidemic occurs, antiviral drugs will be prioritized for people who work in essential occupations such as health care and public safety. Measures to slow the spread of an outbreak could include temporarily closing schools, sports arenas, theaters, restaurants, and other public gathering places and facilities. Basic services such as health care, law enforcement, fire, emergency response, communications, transportation, and utilities could be disrupted for many weeks.

Employees of the College can do some things to help prevent the spread of disease. Following are some tips to prevent the spreading of germs to others:

Respiratory infections and many other contagious diseases including influenza ("the flu"), colds, pertussis (whooping cough) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by germs (viruses and bacteria) from person to person in droplets from the nose, throat and lungs of someone who is sick.

Employees can help stop the spread of germs by practicing "respiratory etiquette" or good health manners.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  • Throw out used tissues in the trash as soon as you can.
  • Always wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing, or after touching used tissues or handkerchiefs. Wash hands often if you are sick.
  • Use warm water and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers to wash your hands.
  • Try to stay home if you have a cough and fever.
  • See your doctor as soon as you can if you have a cough and fever, and follow their instructions. Take medicine as prescribed and get lots of rest.
  • Wash your hands before eating, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands after touching anyone else who is sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose, or whose nose is running.
  • Don't share things like cigarettes, towels, lipstick, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated with respiratory germs.
  • Don't share food, utensils or beverage containers with others.

Employees should prepare and protect themselves. Following are some tips:

  • Stock enough food, water, and other supplies for at least a week. If you become ill, you won't be able to make a trip to the local grocery store.
  • It is recommended that those at risk get the regular seasonal flu shot.
  • Have extra items for personal comfort on hand to make your time at home more comfortable like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, and cleaners.
  • Make sure to have some cash on hand. If necessary, you may be able to have items delivered to your home.
  • Take care of your pets. Make sure you have enough food and water for them.
  • If you take medications on a regular basis, be sure to have enough supply to last for several days.
  • Garbage service may be disrupted or postponed for days. Have garbage bags on hand to store garbage safely.
  • Make sure to have a plan to check in with family and friends, particularly, elderly parents and children.

Additional information can be found in LWIT's Emergency Management Plan.

LWTC Emergency Alert System:

In the event of an emergency, LWTC will alert students and employees by text messages or e-mails via the LWIT Emergency Alert System. Students and employees are encouraged to use this service to receive emergency information as quickly as possible. Got to sign up or update your information.

Class cancellation or college closure due to inclement weather or emergency information can also be found on the Public School Emergency Communications System at SchoolReport.org