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Public Health Information

Health Services closely monitors outbreaks of illness(es) that could potentially become public health concerns based on the criteria from the Centers for Diseases Control and World Health Organization. The CDC closely monitors any widespread, contagious illness and provides guidance to both healthcare providers and the public on how to protect from the illness and prevent the spread of illness.

Current Updates

Health Services continues to follow the CDC recommendations for COVID testing, isolation guidance and vaccination.

If you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results, you should not attend class, work, or other activities involving exposure to others.

Viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), change over time. SARS-CoV-2 viruses with significant genetic changes are called “variants.”  A new variant that is very different than previous variants could behave differently, with potential changes in contagiousness or how well it responds to treatment.  New COVID variants will continue to occur as the virus evolves and changes.

TESTING

COVID-19 testing is recommended for those who have COVID-19 symptoms and should happen as soon as symptoms arise.  Testing is available in Health Services:

  • At-home self tests: At home test kits are antigen rapid tests that produce results in 10 - 15 minutes. Positive results are very accurate and reliable.

    At home tests are available for $6.00 per test at the Health Services front desk.

  • Medical evaluation testing:  Appointments are available with a medical provider for symptomatic patients.   Call 828-227-7640 to speak with a triage nurse.  Test results are available during the appointment with the medical provider.

POSITIVE RESULTS

  • It is important that you self-isolate in your residence for 5 full days after symptom onset. If after 5 days, you have no fever for 24 hours, and your symptoms are resolving, you may leave isolation, but you should wear a well fitting mask when around others for another full 5 days.
  • Since it is not possible to wear a mask while eating, we recommend not sharing meals with others during those 5 days.
  • You may end isolation from others after 5 full days from the onset of symptoms, if your symptoms have resolved, including no fever for 24 hour. If your symptoms have not improved, continue isolation through day 10. 
  • Continue to wear a mask around others through day 10.
  • If you need assistance with a medically documented absence notification, email the Division of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@wcu.edu and include a copy of your test results. If you have questions, you may call Student Affairs at 828-227-7147.

If you are interested in obtaining the latest COVID booster, please visit https://www.vaccines.gov/ and schedule for a vaccine at the location most convenient for you.
   

Additional guidance on isolation and exposure is available through the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html

Influenza, the flu, is a contagious respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness and can pose high risks for people with certain health conditions or compromised immune systems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closely monitors the spread of flu, or flu like illness activity across the United States.
A surveillance map, along with comprehensive flu information can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/Flu/Index.htm.
There are steps that you can take to help avoid the flu and prevent the spread of flu to keep our campus healthy:

  • The first and most important step in protecting yourself from the flu is to GET a flu vaccine. It is not too late to get a flu shot. While the flu shot may not prevent you from getting the flu, it is proven to be effective in helping reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten recovery time if you do get sick.  Health Services still has shots available.
  • Know the symptoms of the flu, and seek medical care here at Health Services if you experience these symptoms:
    • Fever of 100.4F/38C degrees or higher or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
    • Headaches and/or body aches
    • Cough and/or sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
  • Practice good prevention habits by WASHING your hands routinely. Particularly after you have touched surfaces in common areas--avoid touching your face.  Wash your hands with either soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer rubbing your hands together until they are dry.
  • Routinely wipe your pens, phones, keyboards and other common items that may be touched or used by individuals other than yourself, in both your work environment and at home.
  • Cover your mouth if you need to cough or sneeze, using a tissue or your elbow if necessary.
  • Prevent the spread of germs! If you become ill, self-isolate until at least 24 hours after your fever subsides. If you visit a medical provider, ask for a mask, even if you are not experiencing symptoms, you may be exposed while at that medical office.


If you are diagnosed with the flu and need assistance with a medically documented absence notification, email the Division of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@wcu.edu and include a copy of your test results.  If you have questions, you may call Student Affairs at 828-227-7147.

 

Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.

Mosquitos are most commonly found near standing water, or in weedy or wooded areas.   They are usually most active during dawn and dusk in the warmer months.

Although people may not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death.

The simplest way to prevent these illnesses is to prevent mosquito and tick bites through the use of insect repellent.

To find our more about mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/outdoor/mosquito-borne/default.html

If you think you may be sick with a mosquito-borne illness, contact Health Services at 828-227-7640.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is currently tracking an outbreak of monkeypox across several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States. At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the US is believed to be relatively low. 

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:  

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. 
  • Touching items such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by someone with monkeypox. 

What are the symptoms to watch for?

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus, and may include: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Clear or pus-filled bumps/Rash

How can I help prevent getting monkeypox?

Anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  
  • Avoid close contact with and handling linens of people with monkeypox. 
  • Avoid enclosed spaces where there is intimate or sexual contact. 
  • Avoid parties or clubs where attendees wear minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, skin-to-skin contact.  

What should I do if I am diagnosed with monkeypox?

Always follow the discharge instructions your received from your medical provider. The CDC guidance for isolation recommends isolating with a private bedroom and bathroom until the lesions have healed with scabs falling off.  Isolation may last over three to four weeks.

If you feel sick or have unexplained rashes, or you’re concerned about a potential or known exposure: 

  • Get checked. Contact Health Services at 828-227-7640 or your personal medical provider and let them know if you have a rash or a concern about monkeypox
  • Get tested. Your healthcare provider can test for monkeypox. 
  • Get protected. Vaccines are available in limited supply and can help even after exposure.

Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people until you have been evaluated by a healthcare provider. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others and keep the rash covered.  

For more information, including information about the monkeypox vaccine and examples of rashes, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/index.html.

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