West Nile Virus
August 31, 2015
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported the first human case of West Nile Virus. The DPH has not yet determined where in Massachusetts the infection occurred. Please take mosquito precautions when outdoors. Click here to learn more.
As you may know, there is an increasing outbreak of measles in the country. In order to decrease your risk of becoming sick with measles, this is a good time to review your immunization/immunity status and consider vaccination if needed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals born in the U.S. prior to 1957 are likely immune to measles. However, to increase the likelihood of protection, those individuals should consider receiving a dose of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine or having a blood test to check for immunity.
Individuals born in the U.S. in or after 1957 should have two doses of a measles-containing vaccine to be considered immune (or have a blood test that demonstrates immunity).
Individuals born outside of the U.S., regardless of age, should have two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be considered immune (or a blood test that demonstrates immunity).
Students may receive the measles vaccine or discuss their immune status at Health Services. Staff and faculty should contact their primary care providers regarding their immunization status or if they have any questions.
In the event that a case of measles affects the Smith community, individuals exposed who are considered susceptible (inadequate vaccinations and/or lack of protective titers) will be excluded from campus during a period of time determined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
If at any point you think you may have measles, please stay at home or in your room, and call your primary care provider or Health Services if you are a student. It is important that healthcare providers know in advance that you may have measles so they can take measures to protect others when you do visit.
For additional information, visit www.cdc.gov/features/measles.
Smith College Ebola Guidelines
As Smith College continues to closely monitor the evolving Ebola situation, we remain confident the risk to the campus is small. Nevertheless, to maximize the safety of our students, faculty and staff, the following measures are to be followed:
Travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea remains strongly discouraged. The CDC continues a level 3 warning for those countries and says non-essential travel is to be avoided. Mali currently has a level 2 warning.
Students, faculty and staff who travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea or Mali and have not been exposed to Ebola are to notify Health Services prior to their return to campus for clearance to return. During Winter Break, when Health Services is closed, call Campus Police. Smith will follow the CDC guidelines in monitoring student, faculty and staff health for 21 days after leaving one of these countries. For more information, visit wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/ebola-liberia. For current information on Ebola, visit www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebol/index.html.
Five College Ebola Information Sheet
Although the risk of contracting Ebola in the United States is extremely low, health care staff from the Five Colleges and local boards of health are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the Five College community. Members of that team have protocols in place for dealing with many different types of public health issues, but out of an abundance of caution they have also developed a specific plan to respond in the unlikely event that the diagnosis of a case of Ebola directly affecting the campus community emerges. In addition, the group is closely monitoring the outbreak in Africa and will communicate with local officials, hospitals and emergency response agencies regularly to assess the situation. What follows are some frequently asked questions and answers about Ebola.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease, discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There have been a number of outbreaks since its identification. The current outbreak has been ongoing in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for several months.
How is Ebola transmitted?
It is transmitted to people from wild animals, and spreads from human to human through direct contact, as when broken skin or mucous membranes come into contact with blood, bodily secretions, or needles contaminated with infected bodily fluids. Ebola is NOT airborne, foodborne or waterborne. A person is infectious to others only when they have symptoms of illness.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Symptoms begin abruptly with fever, malaise and headache, with diarrhea about 5 days later. Symptoms usually occur 8-10 days after direct contact with body substances of an infected person. The incubation period may be up to 21 days.
What is the risk of contracting Ebola in the Five College community?
There are a limited number of students in the Five College community who live or have traveled to the countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak. Students who were in study abroad programs in these countries over the summer are now in the U.S. and do not meet the criteria for potential suspected cases.
Should travel to that part of West Africa be cancelled?
Faculty, staff and students of the Five Colleges, in keeping with the level 3 warning from the CDC, should avoid travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. There are no Five College study abroad programs within these countries for the fall semester. Those planning travel to Nigeria should be aware of the level 2 warning from the CDC and monitor the situation closely.
What is being done to monitor the students who have been in the affected countries?
In the unlikely event that this situation arises, we will follow the recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of public health (MDPH) for students who know they were exposed to a person with Ebola within the previous 21 days. It is important to stress that even if students who have come from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone report what appear to be relevant symptoms (fever, headache, diarrhea), these individuals are not considered a suspected case unless they have known exposure to Ebola.
What do I do if I start to feel sick?
As at any time, if you are experiencing symptoms of any infectious illness, please delay your return to campus until you have recovered and are no longer contagious. If while on campus you experience signs of illness, especially fever, vomiting or diarrhea, severe pain or weakness, or unusual bleeding or bruising, please consult promptly with your campus's health center staff.