What is the Flu?
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Approximately 5–20% of US residents get the flu each year, according to flu.gov. Swine flu (H1N1) is one of various seasonal flu viruses found in humans.
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people). Some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children. It is important for people who are at greater risk to contact a health care provider if experiencing flu-like symptoms.
How is it Spread?
Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose, or are inhaled into the lungs. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
How to prevent the flu:
- Get a flu vaccination which now protects against seasonal flu and other viruses including H1N1. Kaiser Permanente offers low-cost or free flu vaccines to students, faculty and staff of Mills College every year in two flu vaccination clinics on-campus in October. Find out about the standard vaccination (injection) and the nasal mist.
- Wash your hands frequently and/or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeved elbow ("Dracula sneeze") or into a tissue and promptly throw the tissue in the trash
- Stay at least six feet away from people with flu-like symptoms. If you must care for a sick person, they should wear a face mask.
Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). However, not all people who are infected will have a fever. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
What to do if you think you might have the flu:
- Stay home and avoid personal contact with others.
- Do not return to school or work until you are clear of fever for 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medication.
- Seek medical help: If you have a fever of 101 or higher, call the Kaiser Permanente 24 hour Advice Nurse by phone at 877.645.5757, or contact your health plan Advice Nurse. They will assess whether or not you need to be seen by a doctor. The main treatment for flu is symptomatic (drink plenty of fluids, rest), but anti-viral treatment (e.g., Tamiflu) in the early hours of the illness can help to limit the impact of the virus, especially for those who have additional health risks. Tamiflu is NOT a substitute for the annual flu vaccine.
- Get support: Residential students should contact their Resident Assistant (RA). All students can call the Division of Student Life for assistance at 510.430.2130 (9:00 am–5:00 pm Monday through Friday).
Responding to Flu-like Symptoms
If a medical professional recommends that you isolate for flu-like symptoms:
- If you are not a residential student, please stay home or arrange to stay with someone off campus who can support you while your are ill.
- If you are a residential student, you must inform your Resident Assistant (RA) as soon as possible.
- Return to your family home in a private vehicle if possible.
- Tell your roommate, if you have one.
- Relocate to our isolation location if advised to do so. Visitors to students in isolation will not be permitted.
- If isolating on campus, your Area Coordinator (AC) will help you move to your isolation room and will arrange for meals to be delivered to that space while you are there. The pre-set menu is based on medical advice for foods best tolerated when you are ill. Dietary restrictions should be discussed with your AC prior to arrangement of meal delivery.
- Please wear a mask (provided to you by your RA or AC) when in common spaces such as a bathroom or when interacting with others.
- Contact your professors, if you are able, to let them know you will be missing classes during your isolation period or contact our Manager of Wellness, Anne Staunton, at email@example.com or x2260 if you need to have your faculty notified.
Isolation periods last four to seven days. You can return to your room once you have not had a fever for 24 hours, without taking fever reducing medications. Please notify your RA or DSL at 510.430.2130 when you are ready to return to your residential space.
If your roommate has been asked to isolate:
Clean your space, including door knobs and appliances with multipurpose antibacterial cleaner.
Consider putting together a personal "cold/flu kit."
Recommendations include: a thermometer, tylenol, cough drops/throat lozenges, tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is easier to put together when you feel well than once you are feeling poorly!
Additional information about the flu:
How to contact an RA on duty:
RA1 on duty for residents of WO/OM, LTW/HBE, Ross/Larsen): 510.691.0047 or
RA2 on duty for continuing and grad students: 510.812.0596.
All students can contact the Division of Student Life at 510.430.2130 during work hours (9:00 am–5:00 pm, Monday–Friday) for assistance.
In an emergency, call Public Safety at 510.430.5555, or 911 for immediate assistance (from a land-line or 510.777.3211 (from a cell phone). Calling from a land-line is preferable because your location will be transmitted to emergency services.