University Health Services gives advice on voluntary social distancing

May 01, 2009

Celebrations traditionally mark the end of each spring semester. However, the end of classes this spring coincides with concerns surrounding an outbreak in the United States of the H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu). University Health Services (UHS) recommends that students, faculty and staff participate in voluntary social distancing, if possible, to protect themselves and others from the potential spread of the H1N1 flu.

Social distancing is the reduction in frequency, duration and proximity of contact with other individuals. It is recommended that you:
•    Avoid large crowds if possible.
•    Stay away from people who are coughing, sneezing or otherwise appear sick (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation is a distance of 6 feet)
•    Seek advice from your health care provider and limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them if you are sick.

There are currently more than 100 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S. and additional cases worldwide. The number of cases is expected to continue to grow.

Shelley Haffner, UHS infection control nurse manager, advises following these basic guidelines to stay healthy:
•    Wash your hands thoroughly and often—especially after coughing or sneezing.
•    Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
•    Do not share utensils, drinks, cigarettes, or personal care items.
•    Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as cross-contamination can occur.
•    Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of tissues properly.
•    If tissues are not available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or into your shoulder.

Individuals who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider. For students at University Park, UHS appointments can be scheduled online at or by calling (814) 863-0774. Students at campuses should contact the health center at their Penn State location. If diagnosed in time, infected individuals may be treated with an antiviral medication.

Additional information about the H1N1 influenza visu is available at


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 01, 2009