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Steve Chaplin
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine flu: A Q-and-A with IU Health Center Director Diana Ebling, M.D.

April 28, 2009

Diana Ebling

Diana Ebling, M.D., medical director at the IU Health Center, said it's especially important that students follow infection prevention techniques like frequent hand washing because they often live and work in such close proximity to others.

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Although the swine flu has not been declared a pandemic, all Indiana University campuses have begun taking precautions to prevent or limit the outbreak of swine flu among students, faculty or staff.

Diana Ebling, M.D., IU Health Center medical director, says her office is closely in touch with state and federal health agencies for updated guidance on the situation. To help the public understand more about swine flu, Ebling has provided information to some commonly asked questions regarding the flu, particularly in relation to a university settting.

Q. Do college students, as they tend to mingle, be socially interactive and often live together or attend classes in relatively close quarters to one another, need to take any special precautions at this time?

A. Flu is spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. Since students live in such close proximity it's especially important that they follow infection prevention measures such as frequent hand washing or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner, covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve if coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. It's important that if a student gets infected with the flu that they stay home (in their room) and avoid classes, dining halls and other places where people gather.

Q. Would there be a point when special precautions would need to be taken, and if so, when would that be?

A. We will be actively monitoring this situation at the state and federal level. At this time there is no need for further precautions such as avoiding public events.

Q. What about special precautions for families who may be flying to the region from points around the world for IU's upcoming graduation ceremonies, and then flying out again?

A. At this time there have been no cases of swine flu on the IU Bloomington campus or in the city of Bloomington. It is important that if family members are coming from an area where there has been confirmed swine flu cases that they stay home and not travel if they develop flu symptoms. This typically consists of a fever over 100 degrees, nasal congestion, cough, body aches, and occasionally diarrhea or vomiting.

Q. In areas with confirmed cases, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending steps that include frequent hand washing, covering coughs, and having ill persons stay home, except to seek medical care, and minimize contact with others in the household. Are these steps that should be implemented here at IU now?

A. Yes, these should be implemented now. There is no vaccine available for the swine flu at this time so prevention measures are especially important.

Q. Additional measures that can limit transmission of a new influenza strain include voluntary home quarantine of members of households with confirmed or probable swine influenza cases, reduction of unnecessary social contacts, and avoidance whenever possible of crowded settings. At this time, should IU students, faculty or staff be concerned about implementing social distancing or avoiding large gatherings?

A. No, since there are no suspected or confirmed cases of swine flu in Bloomington it's not necessary to implement social distancing or avoidance of large gatherings at this time.

To speak with Ebling, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896, or