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Messages for Students

August 28, 2009

Dear University of Minnesota Student,

I am writing as a follow-up to the e-mail you recently received regarding the H1N1 flu virus. There has been a significant amount of media attention to this virus, but it is important to keep in mind that for most people, when they become ill, their symptoms have been mild to moderate. But those individuals with underlying medical conditions are at risk for more serious illness. Therefore, we hope to limit the spread of H1N1 infection and keep students healthy.

College age students are at higher risk for contracting H1N1. The virus is highly transmissible, so students living in close contact such as in residence halls are more likely to be exposed and potentially contract H1N1. Being informed and practicing prevention measures is more important than ever this flu season.


Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Wipe down desks and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and after you use them.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.

Create a "flu kit" with the following items:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Disinfecting wipes (to clean surfaces)
  • Thermometer
  • Fever reducing medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Bottled water and other nourishing fluids
  • The following are symptoms of having the flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Most people who contract this flu are ill for five to seven days. Until 24 hours after your fever subsides, you should not attend class, go to work, or attend events where you will be in close proximity with others. Stay home, drink plenty of fluids, treat your fever with fever reducing medication, and get plenty of rest. If your symptoms do not improve after several days, contact your primary health care provider for advice. For questions about whether you should see a physician, or for further guidance on care during an illness, call the Boynton Health Service Medical Information Nurse line at 612-625-7900.
  • If you live on campus in one of the residence halls or an on-campus apartment and you become ill, we advise you to go home for care during your illness. You will likely be more comfortable at home and you will reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to your roommate(s) and others in your residential community.
  • If you live off campus in a living environment similar to an on-campus residence hall, you should also consider going home if you become ill. If you do go home because you're ill, we strongly advise that you don't use public transportation (buses, trains, or airplanes).
  • If you become ill and are unable to go home, stay in bed and limit your contact with friends or roommates to avoid spreading the virus. Please talk to your roommates about caring for one another, and identify friends or family who could check in or deliver supplies such as food and beverages if needed.
  • If you have roommates or friends who seem to be suffering from flu symptoms, encourage them to stay at home and take care of themselves as suggested above.
Students with underlying medical concerns such as diabetes, asthma, sickle-cell disease, cardiovascular disease, a compromised immune system, or a pregnancy should establish a care plan with their medical provider now, before getting sick.

You will be receiving further information about what to do if you become ill and need to miss class, or if you are a student employee and need to miss work.

It will be important to stay updated on the latest University information regarding H1N1 throughout the flu season. E-mail updates will be sent to you, and the University's H1N1 Web site will be updated frequently with the latest information. The U.S. Government’s Web site,, is also a great source for information.

It's common for people who come down with an illness to want to continue to carry out their normal activities such as going to class or work, or hanging out with friends. However, for your well-being and the well-being of your fellow students, if you become ill with the flu, please stay home and rest until you are better.


Jerry Rinehart
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

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University of Minnesota Pandemic Influenza Response Plan (332 K pdf)