Message Detail

To: All Yale Faculty, Students & Staff
From: Linda Koch Lorimer
Summary: Update on Flu Situation
Date: 30-APR-2009 11:36:00 AM Message ID: 42814

General Yale Developments

1.    No cases of swine flu (H1N1 Influenza A) have been confirmed at Yale. However, the Yale University Health Services (YUHS) is treating four patients for Influenza A and has sent samples to the Connecticut Department of Public Health to determine whether these are cases of swine flu.  These patients all live off campus, and they are only mildly ill and receiving treatment at home.  As a precautionary measure, these patients are receiving anti-viral medications.  If it turns out that any members of the Yale community have confirmed cases of swine flu, we will let you know right away.

2.    The CDC has advised that non-essential travel to Mexico be suspended.  Accordingly, the University is not sponsoring or paying for any travel there right now. We also think it is advisable for you to defer any visits by those from Mexico to campus in the next few weeks until the overall situation there is clearer. 

3.    I know there are summer activities and program currently scheduled that involve travel in Mexico and other countries. Over the next two weeks, as we know more, we will be deciding whether changes to those programs will be required.

4.    In the state of Connecticut, there are a number of unconfirmed cases, and some schools have closed in order to do thorough cleanings.  More information about what is happening in the state is available from:

5.    We have created a dedicated email address for any questions concerning the flu:  The email will be checked daily and we will do our best to respond quickly and accurately.

YUHS Update

Dr. Michael Rigsby, YUHS Director of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist, has general medical updates below that are important to all of us:
  • Spreading the virus.  Infectious disease experts think the spread of this swine flu virus is happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread from person to person mainly through inhaling the droplets produced by coughing or sneezing of people with influenza.  Since these droplets don’t travel very far in the air, close personal contact is most likely to spread the virus. 
  • Contagious period.  From what we know, a person with swine flu can be contagious for approximately 24 hours before he or she shows signs and can communicate the illness for as long as he or she exhibits symptoms plus 24 hours.  In some individuals, that could be seven days.
  • Incubation period.  I know that a number of Yale community members went to Mexico during spring break. The time between exposure and the onset of symptoms is probably less than seven days.   Therefore, if you have been back from Mexico for more than two weeks and have not developed any symptoms of the flu, you don’t need to worry about being exposed during your travels.  If you have traveled to Mexico in the last two weeks, please call Urgent Care at 432-0123 if you are a student, or Employee Health at 432-7978 or 432-0071 if you are faculty or employee.  They will advise you of any steps you might need to take.
  • Masks:  I know that we are seeing a lot of healthy persons wearing masks in newspaper and TV reports as a general precaution.  The Centers for Disease Control and our own campus and state health experts are not suggesting that measure at this time.
  • What will happen if someone at Yale gets the swine flu?  We are not waiting for a confirmation of swine flu to begin treatment.  As soon as any form of flu is confirmed, we are beginning treatment. If a student who is living in a residential college gets the flu but does not need ongoing nursing care, we would encourage that student to go home if at all possible.  If that is not possible, we will move the student to a location where he or she is not in regular contact with other students.  Available rooms with private baths have already been identified, in the event we should need them. Of course, if an individual is seriously ill, he or she will be hospitalized.  Fortunately, few of the cases in the US to date have been severe enough to require hospitalization.   
  • Why is hand washing important?  Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.  Since you can’t see if a surface is possibly contaminated, frequent hand washing is an important protective measure. 

What should you be doing now?

  • Call 432-0123 if you have signs of the flu or if you have been in close contact with someone recently diagnosed with flu.
  • There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Ask others to do the same.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.