Dear Faculty and Staff,
As you may be aware, this year’s influenza strain is one of the most virulent in recent years, and increased flu activity has spread into Massachusetts. Given the intensity of the virus this season, we want to remind—and encourage—you to take some simple steps to protect yourself and others:
- Get a flu shot. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physicians for vaccinations or visit one of the clinics or pharmacies in the area offering them.
- If you have flu-like symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. Common symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some with the flu may have respiratory symptoms, but no fever.
- Avoid contact with those who are ill.
- If you are sick, please stay at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you remain at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. The only exception is to leave home to see your doctor.
- When sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your arm or shoulder to prevent the dissemination of germs to others in the immediate area. In addition, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when you are sick, which may also spread the virus.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep objects and surfaces clean as much as possible, since the flu germ is transmitted through touch. Sanitize door handles, elevator buttons, copy machines, equipment and other surfaces that many people use.
The CDC has a helpful page on its website devoted to the flu that provides tips and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as information about treatments, medical terminology and areas of outbreak. In addition, the News Alerts section of Amherst’s Health Services has current information on this year’s flu and will be updated as necessary. We urge you to keep yourself informed, protected and healthy.
Maria-Judith Rodríguez & Catherine Epstein