University Health Services encourages 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 a swine influenza (H1N1) outbreak. University Health Services (UHS) recommends that students participate in voluntary social distancing to protect themselves and others from the potential spread of the swine 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); and
  • If you are sick, seek advice from your health care provider and limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them.

If attending social gatherings in the coming weeks, avoid activities where respiratory secretions can be shared. These activities include:

  • Sharing cigarettes or drinks;
  • Drinking games (such as beer pong, flip cup and keg stands); and
  • Hooking up.

There are more than 90 laboratory confirmed cases of swine flu in the United States and additional cases worldwide. The number of cases is expected to grow. To date there are no confirmed cases of swine flu at Penn State.

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 your shoulder.

Individuals who are experiencing flu-like symptoms, including a fever of more than 100 degrees F, should make an appointment with their health provider. UHS appointments can be scheduled online at or by calling (814) 863-0774. If diagnosed in time, infected individuals may be treated with an antiviral medication.

Additional information about swine flu is available from Penn State Live at and from the CDC at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 01, 2009