Campus Life

How Influenza A H1N1 affects you

Canadians are not immune to the swine flu, and neither is the University of Lethbridge. There is however, no reason to panic.

There is a lot of information in the news media about the current 'flu' nicknamed swine flu (actually an H1N1 influenza strain) but before panic sets in, knowledge about the virus is key to understanding how best to avoid contracting this flu.

A strain of influenza has emerged from the Mexico area that is causing severe respiratory symptoms including high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, lethargy, and body aches. These symptoms sound familiar because they are similar to other influenza symptoms.

Those people who are well right now and have not been to Mexico or been around someone who has been to Mexico and gotten ill, can remain calm. However, be alert to people who are ill and follow basic flu precautions such as washing your hands well and regularly, cleaning your workplace setting, covering your face when coughing and staying home if you are ill.

If you get mild flu symptoms and haven't been to Mexico or been around someone from Mexico, it might just be that you have some other strain of influenza that is not swine flu.

If you do not need medical care, please stay home (letting your supervisor know of your illness) and continue to follow the above mentioned basic flu precautions.

If you require medical care, let your clinic staff know that you have mild flu symptoms and that you have not been to Mexico or been around someone from Mexico. You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting in the clinic waiting area.

However, if you have been to Mexico and have SEVERE influenza symptoms or have been around someone who has recently been to Mexico and has SEVERE influenza symptoms, then please understand that the best thing to do is to stay at home and deal with your illness until such time as you believe that you need to see a doctor.

This illness hits fast and hard, typically within approximately five days after being infected. If you need to seek medical attention, call Healthlink Alberta (1-866-408-LINK (5465)). They will ask you to call the clinic or emergency room before you go there in order that they can have you in a private waiting/exam room (so that you don't infect other people).

You may be asked to wear a mask or be told to stay at home (quarantined) until your nasopharyngeal (nose) swab test comes back. Some people can recover at home; others may need to be hospitalized depending on the severity of their symptoms.

As information changes quickly, the University of Lethbridge Health Centre will continue updating about this illness.

You can also check out these websites for further information:

Centres for Disease Control

World Health Organization

Alberta Health Services

If you have questions, please call the University of Lethbridge Health Centre, ask for Lori or Dianne at 403-329-2484 or e-mail: