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FAQ for Employees Regarding the H1N1 Flu

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Current H1N1

and other Flu Concerns

  Q. What is swine flu?

A. Swine flu (swine influenza A (H1N1)) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930. (Source, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Q.     What are the symptoms of the H1N1 flu?

A.      Like seasonal flu, the symptoms usually start suddenly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H1N1 symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with H1N1.


Q.     What happens if I am diagnosed with H1N1 and I have no more accrued sick leave or other paid leave available to use?

A.      Employees are to use leave time for absences.  If you have exhausted all paid leave, you may be eligible to apply for the Sick Leave Pool, anticipate leave, or apply for leave without pay.


Q.  If I'm feeling ill with flu-like symptoms, where should I go to get tested or for treatment?
A.   Employees should contact their personal physicians for testing and treatment.


Q. Where can I get updated information from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on swine flu?

 A. PASSHE will continuously update its website and its universities as appropriate. Each university will use it established communications structures to inform faculty, staff and students. For additional information from the Center for Disease Control, go to or


Q.  Will offices be closed and classes, campus sport events and other programs be canceled?

A.   Public health officials have not advised universities to do so.  PASSHE and University leaders will monitor the situation carefully and make future decisions based on Center for Disease Control, the PA Health Department and our own information.


Q.  How do I protect myself from contracting swine flu?

A.   As with any influenza-type disease, good health habits are the front line of defense against infection. Here are some basic things that you can do to help minimize your chances of contracting the flu...

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly: Viruses can live up to 2 hours on some surfaces so it is important to wash your hands frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or ethyl alcohol on the label. CDC recommends that when you wash your hands-with soap and warm water-that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. Always wash your hands before eating, and after using the bathroom.
  • Avoid touching your face: The eyes, nose, and mouth are entry ways for viruses. Avoid touching these ports or any open wounds. This will only heighten your chances of the flu entering your body.
  • Learn to sneeze the healthy way: Avoid using your hands to cover your mouth when you sneeze. The virus will get on your hands, increasing the likelihood of transmission. Use a disposable tissue to cover your mouth. If you don't have a disposable tissue, sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Stay home: If you experience flu-like symptoms (headache, fatigue, fever, chills, etc.), stay home from work, school, and postpone travel plans.
  • Keep it clean: Frequently disinfect items that are often touched - doorknobs, desks, telephones, etc., with an EPA-registered disinfectant labeled as effective against bacteria and viruses.
  • Wear protective gear: If you have symptoms, wear a surgical mask when others are around you. For more information on respirators and masks, see
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Staying well hydrated helps your body to deliver nutrients to organs and flushes toxins from the body.
  • Get moving: Regular exercise helps to strengthen the immune system and increases the body's natural virus-killing cells.
  • Get plenty of sleep: A healthy sleeping pattern helps to booster the immune system. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Stay informed: This website will be updated regularly as information becomes available. Website?


In addition, try to avoid close contact with those who are sick. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.


If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. On August 5, 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their interim recommendations to include:


Students, faculty or staff who live either on or off campus and who have an [influenza-like illness] should self-isolate (i.e., stay away from others) in their residence hall room or home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities (their fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine). They should keep away from others as much as possible. This is to keep from making others sick.  Source, CDC


Q.  What if my child's school closes because of H1N1 flu?

A.   Consult your supervisor immediately to discuss the situation and make appropriate arrangements.


Q.  Is PASSHE prepared for a large-scale flu outbreak?

A.   PASSHE and its universities have emergency management plans including specific pandemic flu response plans.


Q.  Has the PASSHE issued any travel restrictions?

A.   No travel restrictions are in place at this time. Any changes will be communicated to Employees. Any travel concerns should be discussed with your supervisor.