Meningococcal disease alert

(Updated 03-02-2017)

An Oregon State undergraduate in Corvallis is being treated at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for what has been confirmed as meningococcal disease. This is the third reported case of the B strain of meningococcal disease at Oregon State University over the past four months. 

Meningococcal disease is a serious, potentially fatal infection that most often causes severe swelling of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or a serious blood infection (meningococcemia). The best defense is getting vaccinated.

Symptoms of Meningococcal disease

Early symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from the flu or an upper respiratory infection, or symptoms may appear suddenly and progress rapidly.

  • Fever and/or shaking chills
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Rash
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Confusion

If symptoms occur

Immediately contact your health care provider or go to the emergency department for sudden severe symptoms.

How Meningococcal disease spreads

The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact with an infected person.

Other factors that increase risk: 

  • first-year college students living in residence halls
  • college students age 25 and under living in group settings (such as fraternities and sororities)
  • military recruits
  • those who lack a spleen or have certain immune disorders.

How to reduce the spread of Meningococcal disease

  • Get vaccinated
  • Do not share:
    • drinking containers
    • eating utensils
    • toothbrushes
    • cosmetics
    • smoking devices
  • Do not drink out of a common source such as a punch bowl
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Know that kissing poses a risk
  • Wash and sanitize your hands often
  • Know that smoking increases your risk

Vaccines available at Student Health

Student Health Services has vaccinations to cover all serotypes (strains) of meningococcus. The mandated meningococcal vaccine required at Oregon State University protects against groups A, C, W and Y. This vaccine does not cover against group B, the strain that has infected three OSU students since fall term 2016.  The MenB vaccine is available at Student Health Services.

Students currently enrolled may come to Student Health Services to receive a vaccine. Students should check with their insurance company to see if the cost will be covered. The charges can also be billed to students’ accounts. 

 


Influenza Information

(Updated 01-25-17)

We often see an increase Influenza(Flu) on campus during Winter Term. The best way to prevent Influenza is by getting vaccinated. Influenza vaccine is available at Student Health Services. The following is information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding Influenza.

What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Signs and Symptoms of Flu

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.

Period of Contagiousness

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. It is important to stay away from work, classes and other public areas as much as possible when you have symptoms of influenza to prevent spreading the illness to others.

Onset of Symptoms

The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high 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 (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Preventing Flu

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

Diagnosing Flu

It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other viral or bacterial causes of respiratory illnesses on the basis of symptoms alone. There are tests available to diagnose flu. For more information, see Diagnosing Flu.

Treating

There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.


Zika Virus Information

(Updated 02-10-17

Live updated information on Zika virus can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through mosquito bites. Only 1 out of 5 infected individuals will develop symptoms which include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Whether or not symptoms occur, all individuals with Zika infection can potentially spread it to others through sexual contact or blood transfusion. Zika is not spread through casual contact such as in a class room, between roommates who are not sexual partners, or through contaminated food.

Though the active infection only lasts for a few days, the potential for spread through sexual contact can last for months. So what’s the big concern? Zika virus can lead to serious birth defects if a pregnant woman develops an infection or if an infected woman later becomes pregnant and transmits it to her unborn fetus. 

If your partner traveled to an area with Zika

Zika virus can affect fetal brain development, and infected persons can carry this virus without showing symptoms. Because of these factors, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people with a partner who traveled to an area with Zika  use condoms or avoid having sex for a period of time.

The precautionary period depends on whether the traveling partner is female or male:

  • If female: Use condoms or do not have sex for at least 8 weeks after her return from an area with Zika (if she doesn’t have symptoms), or for at least 8 weeks from the start of her symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if she develops Zika.
  • If male: Use condoms or do not have sex for at least 6 months after his return from to an area with Zika (if he doesn’t have symptoms), or for at least 6 months from the start of his symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if he develops Zika. This extended period is because Zika stays in semen longer than in other body fluids.

If you live in an area with Zika

If you live in an area with Zika it’s best to use condoms or avoid having sex.  If you (or your partner) develop symptoms of Zika or if you have concerns, talk to a healthcare provider.

The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid exposure and complications: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html

If you have recently traveled in affected areas and feel that you may have symptoms of Zika virus infection, contact Student Health Services for evaluation.