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Updated: Meningococcal disease alert

(Updated 10-31-2017)

Family members of Oregon State University Corvallis students,

We are writing to inform you that an undergraduate student attending Oregon State University in Corvallis is being treated for meningococcal disease. Testing to determine the disease strain is underway and is expected to be completed early next week. At present, there is only one reported case.

Please be aware that meningococcal disease is uncommon, but it is a serious disease. Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious and is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from an ill person coughing or sneezing; other discharges from the nose or throat; or by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, smoking devices; or intimate contact. Those at highest risk include students age 25 and younger who live in on-campus housing or are members of - or visit - fraternal living groups associated with the university. 

The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is by vaccination. Oregon State requires incoming students under the age of 22 to have the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine, which covers multiple strains of the disease but not the B strain. Starting this fall, the university also began requiring incoming students age 25 and under to receive the meningococcal B vaccine series due to three confirmed cases on campus during the last academic year. OSU Student Health Services and the Student Health Pharmacy continue to provide students meningococcal B vaccines through on-campus clinics or within the Student Health Service clinics. Many other health care providers in the community have the meningococcal B vaccine on request.

Benton County Health Department officials are working to identify and contact anyone who may have had enough close exposure to the recently ill student to require preventive antibiotic treatment. This treatment includes protection for all strains of meningococcal disease. Meanwhile, the county health department continues to conduct surveillance and follow up with possible contacts.

Health officials encourage everyone to monitor their own health and note the following symptoms specific to this disease: high fever, a rash, headache, stiff neck, exhaustion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If a family member attending Oregon State is experiencing these symptoms, we ask that they immediately visit their primary care physician or a nearby urgent care medical clinic or emergency room. OSU students experiencing these symptoms should visit OSU Student Health Services in Plageman Hall, which is located at 108 S.W. Memorial Place.

More information on meningococcal disease is available by calling the OSU Student Health Services Nurse Advice line at 541-737-2724 or Benton County Health Department communicable disease nurses at 541-766-6835 or by visiting these websites:

http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/infectious-diseases/meningococcal-disease

http://healthoregon.org/mening.

Sincerely,

Dan Larson

Interim Vice Provost

Student Affairs     

 


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.