Commencement and H1N1 Flu

Submitted on behalf of David E. Newman, M.D., director of the Hammond Health Center at Ithaca College.

As we approach Commencement 2009, the nationwide number of H1N1 Influenza cases continues to rise but disease severity remains low. There have been no cases at IC, in Ithaca or in Tompkins County so far. The most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), on May 6, is similar to that for seasonal flu and focuses on preventing spread.

"On the basis of what is currently known about the ongoing spread of novel influenza A (H1N1) and, as a means to prevent the further spread of disease on and off campus, universities should encourage persons with influenza-like illness to stay home and away from large gatherings. Persons who are sick, should be instructed to limit their contact with other people as much as possible and to stay home for 7 days after their symptoms begin or until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. In addition, they should be reminded to use appropriate respiratory and hand hygiene. Gatherings may include graduations and commencement activities, concerts, sporting events, and other gatherings where close contact is likely between a large number of attendees."

-- Interim CDC Guidance for Colleges, Universities, and Post-secondary Educational Institutions in Response to Human Infections with Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus; May 6, 2009

We look forward to a joyous celebration for our graduates and their families and friends on May 17. Neither the CDC nor our state or local health departments recommend cancellation or limiting attendance. Should that advice change, we will notify the campus community.

However, if you are planning to attend Commencement but are ill with influenza-like symptoms -- fever accompanied by cough, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, and runny nose -- we request that you consider whether the CDC's advice applies to your circumstances. Discussing your symptoms and attendance plans with your health care provider or local health department might be helpful.

Live web coverage of Commencement will start at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, and may be viewed at /.

David E. Newman, M.D.


Originally published in Intercom: Commencement and H1N1 Flu.