Protecting, maintaining and improving the health of all Minnesotans
September 2, 2009
Dear Athletic Director or Coach:
writing to you regarding recommendations for coaches and athletic directors to
reduce the spread of influenza on athletic teams. Because of the amount of time, close
proximity, and sharing of personal items that often occurs in sports, there may
be increased risk of influenza spread in sports teams. Also, most of the people who had novel H1N1
We may have more influenza cases this year than usual. In addition to the “seasonal” influenza that occurs every fall, we are likely to see cases of the novel H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) that first appeared last spring. Novel H1N1 influenza never completely went away over the summer, so the influenza season may start early this year.
Novel H1N1 influenza
seems to be acting like seasonal influenza in terms of how sick it makes people
and how it is spread. Most people who have had novel H1N1 influenza in
Influenza primarily spreads when a person with the flu coughs or sneezes. You can help prevent the spread of influenza by taking the steps that follow. These steps are intended to reduce influenza spread such that schools and school-based activities are able to maintain normal functioning and stay open.
Additional important points:
o The exclusion period is the same even if someone is on antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or have had a influenza test that is negative, these tests are not always accurate.
o Even after they can participate in athletics, athletes will be able to spread influenza, although less easily than when they had fever. To avoid spreading the virus, it is very important that they clean their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue, and not share personal items (e.g., water bottles).
If novel H1N1 influenza begins causing more severe disease, recommendations may change. For example, students with flu symptoms may need to stay home longer and not participate in sports for up to seven days, regardless of when their fever goes away. Some schools may even need to close, for as long as seven days or more.
Thank you for your assistance in helping to reduce the spread of influenza.
Ruth Lynfield, MD
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division
Minnesota Department of Health