Environmental Health & Safety Office

Flu Information for UH Hilo

Our Commitment to Your Safety

A message from Marcia Sakai, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs, marcias@hawaii.edu.

Safety is important here at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. UH Hilo is committed to keeping the university community informed on swine flu as it relates to our campus. We will continue to vigilantly monitor our campus community and provide updates. As you begin classes, here is the latest information about the Swine Flu (H1N1 influenza virus) that you need to read and follow:

H1N1 Flu Campus Announcement:

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo continues to monitor developments in the International outbreak of the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Members of our task force for the continuing development of our Pandemic Flu Plan have been meeting and closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for higher education.

In the event of the threat of an outbreak on the UH Hilo campus, the University will coordinate with State and local Department of Health officials to determine the best course of action to reduce the risk of infection.

H1N1 Influenza - University Response

What are the University's plans in the event of a flu pandemic?

Our University Pandemic Flu working group will continue to work to review emergency plans. Information from the CDC, WHO, DOH and other sources are monitored for recommendations and alerts.

One means for minimizing the impact of an infectious disease outbreak in large populations is through “social distancing” of people. This means limiting close contact of individuals so that they are less likely to spread infection. Therefore, our plan includes contingency steps to be taken ranging from possible removal of individuals with probable H1N1 Influenza from close living conditions up to the suspension of classes or the closing of dormitories and asking students to return to their homes.

The decision to disperse students would only be taken after serious conversation with public health officials and at a time when such dispersal would have a beneficial effect on mitigating the potential transmission in a highly populated, concentrated area such as the campus residences. Such social distancing measures are among the best for interruption of continual spread of an infectious agent.

What would prompt a University closing?

While "social distancing" remains a strategy for minimizing the impact of an infectious disease in large populations, the decision to close the University would only be made after discussion with University administration and State/local health officials.

Should an outbreak become a serious threat, the University could be advised or required by county health officials to close most of our dorms and send as many students as possible home. University leadership may also determine itself that it is in the best interest of students and our community to implement such a contingency plan. Faculty and students will continue to be informed about these plans and are asked to consider what they might do individually to be prepared, should a closure occur.

Why hasn’t the University cancelled large events as a precaution?

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is following guidelines established by the State Health Department. At this time, the State and counties are not recommending that large events be cancelled. But the university is closely monitoring the spread of H1N1 in conjunction with the county and is constantly discussing and considering the virus’ possible effect on future plans, including campus events.

The University is working closely with county health officials and other institutions to safeguard the health of our students and student athletes who might be traveling for events.

H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) Information

Where can I get the most current information about the spread of the pandemic influenza?

The best sources of current pandemic influenza information are the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health (HDOH) . Additional information is available on the UH Hilo H1N1 Influenza brochure.

How do you catch the flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. They usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one or two days before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick.

How do you know if you have the flu or a simple cold? And how do you tell the difference between H1N1 Influenza and other flu viruses?

Flu viruses generally come with higher temperatures than colds: 102°F to 104°F as opposed to less than 101°F. The flu, which generally comes on very quickly, is characterized by severe feelings of weakness and fatigue. Flu often comes with headaches, while colds generally cause mild headaches from sinus congestion. Sneezing and nasal congestion are more common with colds than with the flu. Coughs are generally more severe with the flu, as are muscle aches.

The symptoms of H1N1 are generally quite similar to those of other flu viruses. People affected by H1N1 have experienced fever, headache, upper respiratory tract symptoms including sore throats and coughs, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. Students who are concerned they might have H1N1 should contact Student Health Services at (808) 932-7369. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physician. If you have flu symptoms

Anyone who is experiencing a fever of 100 degrees F (37.8°C) and a cough or sore throat should seek medical attention. Students should contact Student Health Services at (808) 932-7369. Faculty and staff should contact their primary-care physician. Faculty and staff who experience symptoms are asked to avoid work and students to avoid classes and events.

Should I get Immunized?

The H1N1 virus is attacking younger people at higher rates and causing more illness because people in this age group often live, work, and study in close proximity, and are a frequently mobile population. Immunization may help to protect yourself from becoming ill, help to prevent the spread of influenza to others, and may help you to avoid missing school and other activities. The CDC has identified priority groups for immunization as below:

  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza
  • Pregnant women
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services

Links to H1N1 Influenza Information on the web


The University subscribes to a “ConnectED” service which will contact individuals listed in the EOP via email, phone, and cell phone, in the event of emergency. Additionally, Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense will contact the University directly in certain situations.

Information shall be passed along to the University community by means of email, website updates, and, in some situations, by phone and/or security personnel with bullhorns. News and information may also be passed on to local media for broadcast.

UH has a comprehensive system of emergency messaging called UH Alert. Current capabilities include email, phone and SMS/text messaging for faculty and staff and email for students.

Students, faculty and staff may now sign up online to receive alerts via these channels. You can also sign up for the UH alert notifications to be sent via SMS/text message.