Guidelines for Management of H1N1 Virus
May 7, 2009

Guidelines for Management of H1N1 (human swine influenza) in Schools, Universities or Colleges - Produced by Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion & Protection

1. In keeping with current practice in all primary to grade 12 schools, your school should continue to notify the nurse/public health services about absenteeism rates greater than 10%. Provide information as to the reason for absenteeism and if possible, the type of illness if this is reported by parents. If your school has an answering service for absenteeism, you may wish to include directions to parents to provide basic information on the type of illness affecting their child.

2. Reinforce messages among staff and students about the importance of frequent hand washing, coughing or sneezing into their sleeve or arm, and not sharing drinks, mouth guards, etc. These are crucial steps in helping to stop the spread of the virus. You may also want to consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers for use in classrooms.

3. Reinforce usual environmental cleaning practices. No special cleaning regimen is required. Schools should ensure there are sufficient supplies of liquid soap (no bar soap) and paper towels in bathrooms.

4. H1N1 (human swine influenza) symptoms are similar to those for seasonal influenza. They are:
• Cough
• Fever / Chills
• Fatigue
• Body Aches / Headache
• Sore Throat
• Vomiting and Diarrhea (in children less than 5 years of age)

5. Students and/or staff, who do not have influenza-like symptoms, and have recently traveled to affected areas, or have been in contact with someone who has HINI (human swine influenza), should go about their daily routines as usual. If symptoms begin, follow the advice below.

6. Students and/or staff who have influenza-like symptoms and have recently traveled to affected areas, or have been in contact with someone who has HINI (human swine influenza), need to avoid close contact with others for seven days after symptoms start. This is the time when the illness can be spread to others. They should stay home from work, school, public places, avoid social settings and minimize contact with family members as much as possible. Like any illness, should symptoms worsen, they should visit a doctor or walk-in clinic and be sure to mention any travel history.

7. Students and/or staff who have influenza like symptoms and have not traveled to an affected area, or have not been in contact with someone who has H1N1 (human swine influenza), should treat it as they would normal seasonal influenza – stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. As with any illness, if symptoms worsen, see a doctor.

8. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a travel advisory urging all travelers to postpone non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice. Those who will be traveling to an affected area, and have not received an annual influenza vaccination, are advised to get one.

9. There is no evidence to suggest that closing schools would help stop the spread of the virus. If schools close, students may congregate in areas that would increase public exposure to the virus such as shopping malls, parks, movie theatres, etc.

10.  If H1N1 (human swine influenza) is identified in a school, university or college, local Public Health Services will work with the school administration on further actions.

11.  Advise staff, students and parents that further information, including current affected areas, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/hpp and at 1-888-451-4222, Nova Scotia’s toll-free H1N1 (human swine influenza) information line.

 

General Information about H1N1 (human swine influenza)

What is H1N1 (human swine influenza)?
H1N1 (human swine influenza) is a respiratory illness that causes symptoms similar to those of regular human seasonal influenza.

What are the symptoms of H1N1 (human swine influenza)?
H1N1 (human swine influenza) symptoms are similar to those for seasonal influenza. They are:
•  Cough
•  Fever / Chills
•  Fatigue
•  Sore throat
•  Body aches / Headache
•  Vomiting and diarrhea (in children under 5 years of age)

How is H1N1 (human swine influenza) spread?
At this time, the virus is contagious to humans. However, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people. Coughs and sneezes release germs into the air where they can be breathed in by others. Germs can also rest on hard surfaces like counters and doorknobs, where they can be picked up on hands and transferred to the lungs when someone touches their mouth and/or nose.

What is the treatment?
Because H1N1 (human swine influenza) is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective. Antiviral medications can sometimes help lessen influenza symptoms, but they require a prescription. At this time, antiviral use is not recommended.

Who will be treated?
Treatment (if any) will vary depending upon the situation. Public Health will discuss treatment with the physician on a case-by-case basis. In most cases people will only be advised to stay home, rest and avoid contact with others.

What should be done if students and/or staff have been diagnosed with H1N1 (human swine influenza)?
They should stay home from work, school, public places, avoid social settings and minimize contact with family members as much as possible for seven days after symptoms start. This is the time when the illness can be spread to others. If their symptoms worsen, they should visit their doctor or a walk-in clinic.

Should schools be closed or school events cancelled if a student or staff member have been diagnosed with H1N1 (human swine influenza) or is a contact of a case?
No. There is no evidence to suggest that closing schools or cancelling school events would help stop the spread of the virus. In fact, if schools close, students may be more likely to congregate in areas that would increase public exposure to the virus such as shopping malls, parks, movie theatres, etc.

Should school trips be cancelled?
No, unless the trip is to Mexico, there is no need to cancel it. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a travel advisory urging all travelers to postpone non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice. Those who will be traveling to an affected area and have not received influenza vaccination for the season (November 2008 – present) are advised to get one.

How can you prevent the spread of H1N1 (human swine influenza)?
•  Wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
•  Cough and sneeze into your arm or sleeve;
•  Stay home when you are sick;
•  If your symptoms worsen, visit your doctor or a walk-in clinic;
•  Do not share drinking glasses, water bottles, mouth guards or eating utensils.

Can you get H1N1 (human swine influenza) from eating pork?
No. H1N1 (human swine influenza) is not transmitted through pork meat. Continue to follow proper handling and cooking procedures to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.

Should masks be worn?
The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend the public wear surgical masks to protect against H1N1 (human swine influenza). Evidence shows that masks are not effective in preventing the spread of influenza in the public. People often wear them incorrectly, or contaminate them when putting them on and taking them off, which could increase the risk of illness.

If students and/or staff have recently traveled to an affected area or have been in contact with someone who has H1N1 (human swine influenza), and are feeling sick, what should they do?
Avoid close contact with others for seven days after symptoms start. They should stay home from work, school, public places, avoid social settings and minimize contact with family members as much as possible. Like any illness, should symptoms worsen they should visit a doctor or walk in clinic and be sure to mention any travel history.

If students and/or staff have recently traveled to an affected area or have been in contact with someone who has H1N1 (human swine influenza), and are NOT feeling sick, what should they do?
They should go about their daily routine as usual. If symptoms begin, follow the advice above.

If students and/or staff have influenza like symptoms and have not traveled to an affected area or have not been in contact with someone who has H1N1 (human swine influenza), what should they do?
They should treat it as they would normal seasonal influenza. They should stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. As with any other illness, if symptoms worsen, they should see a doctor.

What does isolation mean?
Isolation means keeping sick people away from healthy people and limiting their activity to stop the spread of an illness. When isolated, you should stay away from others in your home (i.e. in a separate room in your house), and if you are in a room with others, a surgical mask should be worn.