Avian Flu Plan: Appendices > Appendix B <- You Are Here
Appendix B: Fall 2006 Student Correspondence Draft [PDF]
What Every Maryland Student Should Know
About the Avian Flu and University of Maryland Plans for a Possible Pandemic
›What is the Avian Flu?
According to the World Health Organization, Avian Influenza refers to "a large group of different influenza viruses that primarily affect birds. On rare occasions, these bird viruses can infect other species, including pigs and humans. The vast majority of avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. An influenza pandemic happens when a new subtype emerges that has not previously circulated in humans."
"For this reason, Avian [Flu] H5N1 is a strain with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans. Once this adaptation occurs, it will no longer be a bird virus--it will be a human influenza virus. Influenza pandemics are caused by new influenza viruses that have adapted to humans."
The current threat has been generated by incidences of the H5N1 virus strain seen throughout Asia and Europe. One of the biggest concerns about this strain is its ability to infect a wide range of hosts, including birds and humans. Data indicate that most people will have no immunity to this pandemic virus. As a consequence, international health authorities are pointing to the strong possibility that infection and illness rates will likely be much higher than during seasonal epidemics of normal influenza.
For more information and resources on the Avian Flu virus and possible pandemic, please consult these University resources and other government agency sites:
›Why does the University need to prepare for it?
Communities need to prepare for a pandemic because if a transmission is identified, it has the potential to spread very quickly. An outbreak of this strain of the flu could significantly interrupt normal University functions for a period of two to four weeks or up to several months, and may involve evacuation of many of its students, faculty, and employees. The University community is taking aggressive steps now to prepare for the potential of such a pandemic in the best interest of minimizing the risk of exposure among faculty, staff, and students.
›What can you do to avoid exposure?
The best way to avoid exposure to the Avian Flu is to avoid being around birds, their feathers or feces, and the soil where birds live. You can avoid being around others who are at risk for exposure. As a pandemic emerges, do not kiss, hug, shake hands or come in close contact with others, especially in large gatherings. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Should you suspect that you may have been exposed, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Check your temperature regularly for several days after you suspect possible exposure and, should your temperature rise, see a physician immediately.
›What will the University do in the event of a pandemic?
Should an outbreak occur, the University will begin to activate its emergency response plan. Steps will be taken to: (a) cancel classes and activities to limit transmission; (b) help faculty and students get home safely before national and international travel restrictions begin; (c) maintain a reduced level of key campus operations through remote or online interaction; (d) implement on-campus wage payments through direct deposit; and (e) communicate contingencies if phone or internet access become bogged down as a result of increased activity. Finally, and once the outbreak has been controlled, the University will begin its recovery process.
The University of Maryland Avian Flu Pandemic Plan will be activated in several escalating levels (visit www.umd.edu for details):
Level 1: First cases of efficient human-to-human transmission internationally - Campus open, business as usual, enhanced planning. All operations will continue as usual including classes and research, but more specific steps will be taken to prepare for Level 2. Communication with the campus community will increase to keep everyone informed of plans being implemented.
Level 2: First verified case in North America AND one or more other triggering events (such as local public health recommendations, rising student and employee absenteeism) � Implement social distancing measures; cancel classes and other scheduled activities; prepare for closing; begin liberal leave for non-essential employees, healthy essential employees report.
At Level 2, social distancing measures will be adopted including the cancellation of classes and all other activities. Health and Counseling Center staff will begin to implement emergency response procedures. Administrative departments, student service units, and all academic programs will begin the process of shutting down.
Level 3: Within 1-5 days of declaring Level 2 and depending on national and local conditions � All University residences will close; thereafter, as soon as practicable, most administrative offices and academic buildings will close. At Level 3, all University residences will close. Dining operations will be reduced to support only the infirmary. All research operations, except those with critical facility needs (e.g., animal care) will be interrupted until the pandemic period has passed. All administrative and academic support units will be shut down until the campus reopens.
Level 4: As soon as practicable following Level 3 � Campus closed; declared emergency condition; evacuation of campus; all facilities closed except skeletal services for infirmary, shelter housing for selected international students, and essential research; access to campus sealed off; closure sustained. During Level 4, the campus will be closed. No vehicles or pedestrians will be permitted on campus unless approved as essential employees for tasks related to maintaining and securing the physical campus structure. All service contracts and construction projects will be put on hold.
Recovery Level: Recovery stage once pandemic is under control � Campus poised to re-open. Once the danger of the Avian Flu pandemic has passed, the campus will re-open for business. As services return to normal, accommodations for concerns that arose as part of the period of closure will be addressed.
›What You Can Do Now to Prepare, Before the Semester Begins?
Make Your Emergency Plan Now
Your ability to stay healthy and to respond effectively will depend in part on your advance planning. You should think through your personal emergency plan and address the following considerations:
If you live on or near campus and have to travel some distance to your permanent residence, what are your primary travel plans? Do you have a contingency?
•If you plan to travel by air or rail, do you have your travel agency or
airline reservation information handy? Have you familiarized yourself with plans
by University departments, including Public Safety and Transportation Services,
to arrange pick-up sites for shuttles to take you to public transportation destinations?
•If you plan to drive, do you have at least one alternate route?
•If you will be picked up, do you have contact information ready?
•If you cannot get home, is there a friend or loved one who lives nearby
who would agree to let you stay during a campus closure (for what could be up
to several months)?
•What are the plans for closure in your residence hall, chapter house, apartment
or private residence? Prepare when you move in. Ask your RA, house director,
manager or landlord what the procedures for evacuation might be.
›If you commute and an evacuation is ordered, do you have at least one alternative commuter route?
•Familiarize yourself with local resources
for traffic updates and road conditions, including http://www.wtopnews.com
›What should you prepare to have at home, in the event that the campus is closed, but academic activities continue remotely, through e-mail or other communications?
•Books and ongoing research
•Laptop and portable technology devices
•Syllabi for your classes, including faculty contact information
•Individual course plans in the event of a campus evacuation
Prepare a Personal Emergency Kit
As a result of social distancing, evacuation, closures, and travel restrictions, it is a good idea to anticipate what personal items you will need to take and keep with you in the event of a pandemic.
•Food and water (preparation experts recommend at least a two-week supply
of non-perishable items, so that you do not need to go to the store).
•Medications (fill prescriptions and have over-the-counter items in supply).
•Heath and hygiene items: Tissues, toilet paper, anti-bacterial (waterless)
gel, soap, disinfecting cleaning solution, trash bags.
•Practical items: Flashlight, portable radio with batteries, manual can
•Contact information: Have phone and e-mail contact information for loved
ones, as well as a previously identified third-party contact, in the event that
you cannot reach a loved one directly.
›If you work on campus, have you arranged for direct deposit?
In the event of a campus closure, any earnings you are scheduled to receive will
only be issued electronically. Checks cannot be issued until the University reopens.
•If you do not have a bank checking account, create one.
•To arrange for direct deposit of your paycheck to your bank account,
contact your department Payroll Coordinator to complete the direct
deposit request form or you may get a copy of this form online at
›Will the University be able to reach you once you have evacuated?
The University will rely on phone and internet communications to remain in touch with you during a pandemic. Please make sure your contact information is up to date (both e-mail and phone) in the Student Information System, at http://www.testudo.umd.edu/apps/saddr/.
As the University plans are finalized, you should watch for more information
on the University home page, www.umd.edu, as well as on e-mail and in the Diamondback.
Lastly, try not to be overly concerned. The information shared here and the preparations
made are intended for more effective response to something that may never happen.
If it does, you will be ready and know what to expect.