University issues update on H1N1 influenza

The chair of York University’s Pandemic lnfluenza Planning Steering Committee, Steve Dranitsaris, senior executive officer, Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration, has issued an update on the H1N1 influenza for the Fall term at York University.

As we head into perhaps the busiest period of the academic calendar over the next few weeks, I would like to further update you on H1N1 influenza (a.k.a swine flu) and the measures being taken at York University in the event of a possible re-emergence of the virus.

There are strong signals coming from medical and health-care authorities that H1N1 influenza will resurface this fall, affecting more people than we have seen up until now. This needs to be a concern for the University because of the size and geographical reach of our community and the potential for this flu to disrupt work and study for many of us. Experts are also warning that there may be a change in the severity of this flu, but there is no indication of such a change at this time.

First of all, I want to assure community members that York University is prepared to deal with this particular public health challenge. York has had a large working group preparing for a pandemic situation for a number of years. We have a plan in place to manage through a major outbreak and this plan would be launched at the direction of Toronto Public Health. Our plan can be found publicly online by visiting the Emergency Preparedness Program’s Pandemic Influenza Planning Web site.

We all need to remain vigilant in doing what we can as individuals to mitigate the spread of this virus, for the well-being of both ourselves and our co-workers. This includes taking responsibility for our own health.

As with any infectious disease, thoroughly washing and drying your hands, and coughing and sneezing into your sleeve – NOT into your hands – can help to lessen the spread of germs. Signage has and will continue to be posted in campus buildings to assist and remind all about proper hygiene. If you have symptoms of respiratory illness or are not feeling well, you should stay home. In such a case, you are encouraged to contact your health-care provider or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

We continue to keep community members informed about our pandemic preparedness using Web-based resources that detail what individuals can do to limit the spread of the virus should there be an onset locally. There is more information in the H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) Outbreak Information PDF.

The University is continually monitoring the spread of the H1N1 influenza, both globally and locally, and will provide communication updates on the main University Web site as the situation progresses. We will also issue printed bulletins and alerts on each of our campuses as necessary.

The following University offices are important resources for further information:

  • Department of Occupational Health & Safety: 416-736-5491
  • Office of Emergency Preparedness: 416-736-5258
  • Health Education & Promotion, Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development: 416-736-5196