Current Health Issues

Meningitis B Update: 

Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease, often referred to as meningitis, a serious bacterial infection that can lead to lifelong complications and even death. However most of these cases are vaccine preventable. There are two kinds of vaccines available that may help protect against meningococcal disease.  The disease is caused by several different types of (serogroups) bacteria.

The routinely recommended quadravalent meningitis vaccine protects against 4 major serogroups (A,C,W and Y) and it is recommended for all individuals at age 11 to 12 years, with a booster dose at age 16 years.

However the routine vaccine does not protect against one of the most common causes of the disease, Serogroup B.  Serogoup B continues to cause outbreaks on college campuses. Vaccines against serogroup B only became available in the US in 2014. This vaccine has been added to the recommended list of vaccines for Gettysburg College students.

We encourage all students to learn more about meningococcal disease and the vaccines available to prevent it. 

For more information go to www.nfid.org/meningococcal or

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/index.html for further information on vaccines.

 

 ZIKA VIRUS - FEBRUARY 2016

You may be aware that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Monday, Feb.1st that the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects is an international public health emergency.

 The Zika virus infection is transmitted primarily by mosquito bites; transmission through sexual contact has also been documented.  It is estimated that 80% of those infected with this virus are without symptoms.  The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Symptomatic disease includes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).  Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. There is currently no vaccine or other preventative medication for the Zika virus.  

The virus has been linked to microcephaly, a serious birth defect that causes babies to be born with brain damage and unusually small heads. 

Important public health information about the Zika virus:

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Travel Alert, Level 2Practice Enhanced Precautions, to regions with Zika virus outbreaks. These areas include parts of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Samoa, and Cape Verde. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

 

  • For the average traveler, like students who are studying abroad or planning abroad travel to high-risk Zika-infested areas, the risk seems to be similar to other vector borne disease in the regions, such as, dengue or chikungunya virus.   The best advice for students, faculty and staff who plan travel to these regions is to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html

 

  • Pregnant travelers to areas with Zika virus transmission should postpone their travel if at all possible.  If you must travel to one of these areas, consult your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.  Women who are trying to get pregnant should consult their healthcare provider about their plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus. Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak

We will continue to monitor this evolving health alert and provide any relevant updates.  The full CDC warning can be found here: www.cdc.gov/zika.  If students have questions or concerns, they should contact Health Services on campus for more information. 

 

U.S. MEASLES OUTBREAK - FEBRUARY 2015

Gettysburg College Health Service is monitoring the recent ongoing multi-state outbreak of measles.  Between January 1st and January 30th of 2015, 102 people from 14 states were reported to have measles. Of these cases, 92% are part of a large outbreak linked to the Disneyland amusement park in California. The majority of these people who acquired measles were unvaccinated.  Pennsylvania has one isolated case of measles this year not related to the outbreak that started in California.  This case does not pose a threat to our campus community. 

Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness. It begins with a prodrome of fever, cough, coryza (runny nose), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and lasts 2-4 days prior to rash onset. Measles can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. Measles is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing; infected people are contagious from 4 days before their rash starts through 4 days afterwards. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains viable for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air. (CDC)

Gettysburg College Health Service requires all students to be immunized, with few exemptions, against vaccine preventable diseases in accordance to immunization guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College Health Association (ACHA).  If you have questions about your current immunization status, contact your healthcare provider or consult the College Health Service for guidance in updating your immunizations. 

Related links:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm

 

EBOLA - Updated 10/28/2014

Although the risk of contracting Ebola in the United States is extremely low, Gettysburg College is taking precautionary measures in the interest of our community’s safety and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Ebola virus disease (EVD), which has been much in the news recently, poses little risk to the U.S. general population at this time. However, U.S. healthcare workers are advised to be alert for signs and symptoms of EVD in patients with compatible illness who have a recent (within 21 days) travel history to countries where the outbreak is occurring.

In keeping with the level 3 travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, faculty, staff, and students should avoid travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia because of outbreaks of Ebola in those countries.

Although strongly discouraged, any travel to the above named countries, whether personal or college-sponsored, should be logged at www.gettysburg.edu/tripnotification

Currently, we know of no students or faculty who have been living or traveling in the affected areas.  However, if you have recently travelled within the last 21 days to, from, or through Sierra Leone, Guinea, or Liberia, please alert your supervisor, department chair, or the health center. Once alerted, please supervisors and department chairs should contact Regina Campo in Human Resources at x6207.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared on the western coast of Africa (specifically the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea) and Nigeria.  This viral infection causes acute symptoms of high fever, muscle pain and weakness, headache, sore throat followed by vomiting and diarrhea, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.  Some patients have had kidney and liver failure and about 50% of people infected with the virus have died.  Ebola has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact with infected body fluids including saliva, secretions, and blood.  Currently there is no vaccine and treatment involves supportive care.

The likelihood of contracting any viral hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, is considered extremely low unless there has been direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic infected persons or animals, or objects that have been contaminated with body fluids. All travelers can take these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of illness:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rub your hands vigorously.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Illnesses spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

The College health care professionals, Center for Global Education program directors, International Student advisor, Provost Office and other will be monitoring the situation and plan for any contingencies if the situation changes.