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November 20th, 2020
The CDC has strongly recommended Americans do not travel for the Holiday. They advise that celebrations should be kept within single households. This supports Governor Brown’s recent two-week “Freeze” which limits social get-togethers, indoors and outdoors, to no more than six people total, from no more than two separate households.
These warnings come as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reach record highs daily across the US, including our own State of Oregon.
Particular concerns about traveling raised by the CDC are transportation hubs – persons not able to maintain social distancing while waiting in lines, for example to board buses and planes.
This supports the Travel Advisory issued jointly by Washington, Oregon and California last week which advises strongly against any non-essential travel outside of one’s home state and recommends a 14-day Self quarantine for those who do travel for nonessential reasons. Oregon’s travel advisory can be found here: https://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=37700
An estimated 30 to 40 percent of Covid-19’s spread is caused by persons without symptoms according to Dr Henry Walke from the CDC. Persons traveling home to spend time with family can infect their loved ones before they show any symptoms.
To protect loved ones, especially older individuals or those with chronic medical problems, celebrations should be limited to only people who have been living in the house for 14 days before the gathering. That would exclude college students and members of the military who planned to go home for the holidays. There is no more important time than now to redouble our efforts to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, wash our hands frequently and, most importantly, wear a mask.
For those who decide to travel despite the recommendation, they should do so as safely as possible by following these same recommendations and other travel Advice in the CDC website.
On February 11 the World Health Organization (WHO) officially renamed the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to "COVID-19" (CO references Corona; VI references Virus; D references Disease; and 19 is the year of origination).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The disease, called COVID-19, has spread to other parts of China and at least 32 other countries including the US. While novel virus infections in people are always a public health concern, the CDC feels risk of exposure to COVID-19 to individuals in the US is low at this time. For updated information go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
The dissemination of this infection indicates that there is significant human-to-human spread. The disease can be passed from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are produced when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or exhales. The CDC defines significant exposure as being within six (6) feet of an infected individual for at least ten (10) minutes. Droplets may also contaminate surfaces or objects in the vicinity of the infected individual and be picked up by touching and transferring virus to the nose, eyes or mouth. It cannot penetrate intact skin. It is not yet certain how long viruses on contaminated surfaces remain contagious.
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever with cough and/or shortness of breath. It can take up to two (2) weeks to develop symptoms. Anyone with these symptoms who has visited China within a two-week period, or those with symptoms who have been exposed to another individual with a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection, should seek medical care immediately. It is best to call your health care facility in advance so that precautions can be taken to minimize exposure to other patients and staff in the facility. Testing can be done through the CDC when appropriate.
While it is clear that some individuals, especially older individuals and those who have weakened immune systems due to medications or medical conditions, can develop severe life-threatening disease, most healthy individuals have mild to moderate symptoms and rapid recovery.
The best preventative steps for COVID-19, as for any communicable disease, include simple but important practices as part of your daily routine, especially during flu season:
At present the State Department has imposed travel restrictions and high level travel advisories for travel to and from China (See OSU Sponsored Travel to Areas of High Risk for COVID-19 Exposure below)
These restrictions include medical evaluation and possible hospitalization of those arriving from China who have symptoms of the COVID-19 (cough, fever, and/or difficulty breathing) and 14 days of self-quarantine monitored by local health departments for all others. While there are lower level travel advisories (considering postponing travel for those who have chronic illnesses, avoiding sick people while traveling) for travel to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong there are no restrictions in traveling to and from these countries and no screening or quarantining of those traveling to the US from these areas at present. Restrictions and advisories can change on a daily basis so it is always best to check the State Department Travel Advisories web page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/ and search in the Learn About Your Destination box on this page prior to planning travel outside the US.
OSU Sponsored Travel to Areas of High Risk for COVID-19 Exposure
China is currently designated a high-risk travel destination. The US Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, and in accordance with the OSU International Travel Policy, any university-sponsored travel to China at this time requires a petition process. Faculty/staff travel requires approval by a senior administrator. Undergraduate student travel requires approval by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and graduate student travel requires approval by a college dean. Please contact Samuel Gras, international health and safety coordinator, for information about the petition process and any travel-related questions.
It is possible that travel warnings will expand to other countries as more information becomes available. If you are planning on traveling to areas of concern it is best to consult the State Department Travel Advisories page, as noted above, for the latest recommendations.
Students can call the Student Health Services Nurse Advice line at 541-737-2724 for more information regarding potential infection or travel advice. Faculty and staff traveling on OSU business can contact SHS Occupational Medicine at 541-737-7566. Faculty and staff traveling for personal reasons should contact their primary care provider or Benton County Health Department.
Influenza has arrived early! Several students have already been diagnosed with Influenza B at SHS and in the community. This could be a long flu season. We strongly recommend all students get the influenza vaccine. This can be obtained in the SHS Clinic or Pharmacy or at any local clinic or pharmacy. If you develop symptoms of influenza (see below) please stay at home, except to access health care, until 24 hours after your fever resolves to minimize the spread to others.
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:
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
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.
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.
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 can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
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.
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.
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.
There are influenza antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness.
There are over 800 cases (up 270 cases from 10 days ago) of lung injury reported from 46 states (including Oregon) and 1 U.S. territory (up from 38 states 10 days ago). Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states (including Oregon). Two deaths have now been reported in Oregon.
CDC has received complete sex and age data on 373 of 530 cases.
All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping.
Based on initial data from certain states we know: Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain with breathing (pleuritic pain). Symptoms have worsened over days or weeks prior to hospitalization. Some affected individuals have experienced fatigue, fever, nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea as well.
The cause of this serious condition is not known. It does not appear to be related to infection. Most individuals have been vaping cannabis products.
We strongly advise students to stop using all vaping devices and to seek medical care immediately if experiencing the symptoms noted above.
For more information, visit the CDC website about this topic.
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:
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 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.