May 1, 2009
  Feature Story


Swine Flu culture

UNTHSC monitors swine flu

UNT Health Science Center is making preparations to minimize the potential impact of the H1N1 or “swine” flu on our campus and is taking steps to protect the health, welfare and safety of our students, faculty, staff and patients. The threat of a pandemic flu is a rapidly evolving situation, and in this case one that is unprecedented.  We will continue to provide periodic updates about our response, as well as more information on the issue as it becomes available.

What UNTHSC is Doing
We have activated our campus Emergency Preparedness Plan to deal with the many dimensions of a pandemic flu threat. Over the past week, Safety Officer James Sims, PhD, has coordinated planning with our Emergency Operations Center commanders, clinical managers, safety coordinators, UNT Denton, the City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Emergency Management, State of Texas Division of Disaster Management and the CDC.

Due to the number of confirmed cases now in Texas and locally, we have moved to the Alert Phase of our Plan related to a pandemic flu situation.  Also as you may know, the Fort Worth ISD and a few other schools closed today and are expected to be closed for at least one week to reduce potential transmission.

We ask that all areas of our organization review and update all emergency preparedness plans. We also encourage you to take precautions to protect yourself, your family, students, co-workers and patients.

Facilities staff have been disinfecting all hand contact surfaces and restrooms frequently throughout the day in all main facilities since Tuesday. This includes elevator buttons, door handles/facings, public telephones, counters, etc. They will continue these procedures until further notice or until the flu threat has been lowered.

Who is in Charge
Kathleen Forbes, MD, executive vice president of Clinical Affairs and Business Development
and president of UNT Health, has been appointed as the UNTHSC Emergency Preparedness Commander, working closely with Dr. Sims and 11 other senior incident commanders as outlined in our Emergency Plan. Given the risk of having multiple people impacted in a pandemic, we also have a list of back-ups for these people. Click here for the list of incident commanders and their back-ups.

Classes and Events
At this time, all classes, clinics and research activities are continuing as scheduled.  We have not made any decisions on cancelling banquets, commencement or other activities other than our High School Art Show reception planned for Saturday, May 2.  We will continue to monitor the situation and act appropriately.

Symptoms of Swine Flu
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of regular seasonal flu and may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body ache, headache, and fatigue. Some people also are reporting vomiting and diarrhea with the flu. A real signal is a fever of 100 degrees or more. 

You can be contagious one day before you experience symptoms, and remain contagious for 5-7 days.  Duration of the flu can be up to 14 days.

Staying Healthy

  • Cover your nose and mouth with your arm or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Try to avoid highly-trafficked, enclosed spaces

If You Feel Sick
Stay away from work, contact your supervisor and see your healthcare professional if you have an influenza-like illness, fever over 100 degrees, and a cough and/or sore throat. This is especially true for anyone who has recently traveled to Mexico (within 7 days) or had contact with a person who has been diagnosed with the flu.  If you become ill at work, contact your supervisor, go home, and contact your healthcare professional

Monitoring the UNTHSC Family
We are taking steps to coordinate the counting of all employees (staff and faculty) and students who are absent for any reason as well as confirmed cases of swine flu in order to plan continuation of academic, research, clinical and other services on campus.  These tracking systems will be supported by Rand Horsman, vice president of Human Resource Services,Thomas Moorman, EdD, vice president of Student Affairs, and Dr. Kathleen Forbes in UNT Health.  Also, we are tracking any suspicious and/or confirmed cases of this flu identified throughout UNT Health.  Confirmed cases of swine flu will be monitored daily and then communicated to all appropriate campus leaders as well as Fort Worth Emergency Management.

Further information:
We are creating a web page to post ongoing updates that will be linked from our Internet front page.  It will be available soon.  Meanwhile, more information can be obtained on the following sites:

Centers for Disease Control Swine Flu page
Tarrant County Public Health Swine Flu page

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University of North Texas Health Science Center
3500 Camp Bowie Boulevard | EAD 834 | Fort Worth TX | 76107-2699