3 June 2009: Swine flu, also known as swine influenza or influenza A (H1N1) virus, is a contagious respiratory disease. Swine flu is usually found in pigs, however a new strain of the virus which affects humans, also called H1N1 influenza, was recently identified and is thought to have started in Mexico.
How does it spread?
Spread of swine flu is thought to be happening the same way seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Swine flu, when it affects humans, usually causes a short-term illness similar to seasonal flu. Symptoms of swine flu may include:
Ways to help prevent the spread of swine flu
Good hygiene is very important and can reduce your risk of getting swine flu or passing it on to other people. Remember to:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the garbage bin after you use it;
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective;
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way;
Avoid public places and close contact with others if you have the flu;
Avoid traveling to areas where outbreaks have occurred;
Avoid sick people if possible.
What to do if you are experiencing symptoms
Call your GP if you have an Influenza-like illness (fever, cough and fatigue);
Call your local hospital only if you are seriously unwell with flu like symptoms;
Swine Influenza Hotline Tel. 180 2007 – for the general public and people returning from overseas with flu-like symptoms;
Nurse-on-Call Tel. 1300 606 024 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days);
To report a suspected case call Department of Human Services - Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit Tel. 1300 651 160.
In relation to examinations and other assessment tasks
If you have been diagnosed by your doctor as having or suspected of having swine flu:
you should obtain a medical certificate to that effect;
you will be required to provide a clearance certificate from your doctor to indicate that you are no longer in the contagious stage or suffering from swine flu before being allowed to return to university;
If you have a medical certificate which states that you have either had or you have been suspected of having swine flu, and hence you have been subject to quarantine restrictions, the University will waive the normal time limits within which applications for special examinations and special consideration should be submitted;
If you present for an examination and are observed to have ‘flu like’ symptoms, you may be asked to leave the examination venue and urged to consult your doctor.
Staff and students planning to travel overseas, should check the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advisory webpage and adhere to the warnings issued. If you are ill, it may be prudent to delay your international travel, particularly if you plan to travel to North America and Mexico. Additional international travel advice can be found at Update for Travellers - Swine Influenza (World Health Organisation (WHO)).
As Victoria appears to have the most cost confirmed cases, staff should consider limiting their travel to Victoria for essential purposes only and if not considered essential, postponing or delaying their travel until a later date.