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Public Health Information

Health Services closely monitors outbreaks of illness(es) that could potentially become public health emergencies based on the criteria from the Centers for Diseases Control and World Health Organization. The CDC is closely monitoring the widespread flu outbreak and subsequent hospitalization rates in the United States. 49 States are reporting above average flu activity. Educate yourself on how to prevent the spread of flu.

Current Updates

COVID-19 (Coronavirus 2019)

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has community spread across the United States, including local cases at WCU. It is important that you know how to protect yourself from getting sick, and steps to take if you do begin to feel ill.

Symptoms:

It is very important to monitor your health for symptoms, and if you develop symptoms, to contact your healthcare provider.   You can reach Health Services at 828-227-7640. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Contact with Positive Exposure:

If you have been notified by a contact tracer that you have been exposed to someone with a positive case of COVID-19, it is important that you begin to quarantine and separate yourself from others as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus.  You may be directed to get testing.  It can take up to 14 days after exposure for you to become sick. You could be contagious with COVID-19 and be asymptomatic, meaning you never have symptoms.  During that period, however, you could continue to spread the virus to others.

Close Contact:

If you have heard from a friend or family member that you might have been exposed, review the CDC’s guidance for determining a close contact, or someone that may need to quarantine:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html

If you do not meet any of the criteria listed, you would not be considered a close contact, and the risk of exposure is very low. 

Flu

As the spring semester is getting underway, so is the 2020 flu season. I wanted to update you on flu activity in our area and ask for your help in preventing the spread of flu in our community.

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 Center for Disease Control's (CDC) surveillance map shows widespread flu, or flu like illness, activity throughout the southeast United States.  More specifically, the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Surveillance Summary demonstrates increased flu activity at this point in time compared to the past two years in North Carolina.  With those statistics in mind, you can take to help avoid the flu and prevent the spread of flu and 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, the Office of Student Affairs is assisting with documented medical absence notifications to allow you the necessary time to recuperate without furthering spreading illness to the rest of campus.

Measles

From January 1 to May 10, 2019, 839 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states, based on data reported to the CDC.

This is an increase of 75 cases from the previous week, and new cases continue to be diagnosed.

This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.

In a given year, more measles cases can occur for any of the following reasons:

  • an increase in the number of travelers who get measles abroad and bring it into the U.S., and/or
  • further spread of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Persons with measles are contagious from four days prior to rash onset (with the rash onset considered day zero) through four days after rash onset.

Measles is a public health concern and is reportable to the Communicable Disease Branch of the NC Department of Health and Human Services to implement measure to control the spread of illness.

As of May 16, 2019 NC has not experienced a positive case of measles, but if are experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned about potential exposure, please visit Health Services to discuss your concerns.

Mosquito Borne Illnesses

 

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently issued travel advisories to areas infected with Zika virus, including parts of the United States. There are five important things that you should know about Zika. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have either traveled to an infected area or recently had mosquito bites please visit Health Services to discuss your concerns.

Other infections that can result from a mosquito or tick bites include:

Zika

Chikungunya

Dengue

Malaria

Saint Louis Encephalitis

La Crosse Encephalitis

Lyme Disease

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Educate yourself and contact Health Services if you need more information.

MERS

 

Health Services if following the guidance and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)World Health Organization (WHO) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health.

There is a Level 2 Travel warning issued by the CDC to limit travel to Saudi Arabia, and the neighboring countries of Iran, Iraq and Syria. More information regarding travel restrictions

As of June 2015, there is still a Level 1 travel warning to South Korea and China.  More information regarding travel restrictions to this area visit

View a handout on MERS

Ebola

As of March 29, 2016 the World Health Organization issued the following statement:

The 9th meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa took place on 29 March 2016. In the Committee’s view, the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the temporary recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated.

Health Services will continue to follow the guidance and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)World Health Organization (WHO) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health.

International Travel

Persons arriving in the U.S. from an affected area or any traveler should monitor their health and if feeling sick, contact their health provider immediately and tell him or her about their recent travel and potential contacts before they go to the doctor's office or emergency room to prevent potential transmission to others.

Students should contact Health Services at 828-227-7640 and ask to speak with a Registered Nurse for questions or assistance.

Faculty and Staff should contact their primary care Provider or Health Services for more information.

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