Update on Influenza/Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) activity

(January 16, 2015)

Influenza (what is referred to as the flu) is now widespread across 46 states in the US, including Massachusetts.  We have had one confirmed case of influenza at NEC and expect that there will be an increase in flu activity as the season continues.  

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

This year’s most common flu strain (Influenza A) is not a perfect match with the vaccine.  The vaccine does, however, protect from other strains of flu (influenza B) that circulate during flu season.  Symptoms may be milder and not as easily recognized as flu, but are potentially just as contagious.  We encourage NEC students and other members of the NEC community to get a seasonal influenza vaccine (flu shot) since vaccination remains the single best way to prevent the flu.   

Students may call the NEC Health and Counseling Service at 617-585-1284 to make an appointment for a flu shot or if they suspect that they have the flu. 

How do I know if it’s influenza /ILI?

The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • 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:

  • Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing.
  • They usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. 
  • Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. 

Good Health Habits to Prevent the Spread of Flu:

  • Clean your hands - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  You may also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick - When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick - If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Cover Your Cough - Stop the Spread of Germs that makes you and others sick.

What should I do if I get the flu?

  • If you are feeling sick, stay home.  You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone away without the use of fever reducing medicines. 
  • Generally, the flu lasts 3 to 7 days, but people may feel tired for weeks.   Drink plenty of fluids and get a lot of rest.  
  • Medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Nuprin® or Advil®) can be used to help relieve a fever.  Be sure to follow package directions for the age of the person taking the medicine.  
  • Do not give aspirin to children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness.  
  • Decongestants may help relieve a stuffy nose or sinus pressure in adults and older children.  
  • Talk to your health care provider if symptoms seem severe or ongoing. 
  • For more information on the flu or how to care for yourself or someone with the flu, on http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/infectious-diseases/influenza/Pages/Influenza.aspx

When should I contact my health care provider?

  • Get emergency medical care if you or someone you know has flu and any of the signs below: 
  • Trouble breathing or chest pain 
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips 
  • Vomiting and unable to keep liquids down 
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dizziness when standing, less urine, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry 
  • Seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions (shakes) 
  • Is less responsive than normal or becomes confused 
  • Signs of flu that improve but then return with fever and worse cough 
  • Fever with a rash 
  • Any other signs that are especially worrisome or concerning

Additional Flu Resources:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/index.htm

The Information included in this memo was adapted from materials found on the Centers for Disease Control and Boston Public Health Commission websites. 

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm

 

Recent Ebloa Outbreak in West Africa Alert (09/01/2014)

Many of you are likely aware that an outbreak of Ebola virus has affected areas of West Africa over the past several months including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and to a limited extent, Lagos in Nigeria.  The likelihood of being infected with Ebola virus is very small unless:

  • the person has traveled to an outbreak area AND has direct contact with blood or body secretions from an Ebola infected person or animal, 
  • OR has direct contact with objects that were wet with the blood or body fluids of someone ill with Ebola virus. 

The NEC Health and Counseling service is working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission to identify students, students, faculty, or staff who may have traveled to areas and are now returning to Boston.  Although the risk of a traveler arriving in the US with Ebola infection is small, we have been asked to have a plan in place to monitor returning travelers from affected regions, and to respond should members of the NEC community become ill.  The first step is to identify individuals who may be at risk due to their travel/work history.  Please contact the NEC Health and Counseling Service at 617-585-1284 at your earliest convenience if you have traveled or lived in these areas within the past 21 days.  You will be asked a series of questions:

   1.  to identify any risk factors for infection, and 

   2.  to provide instructions for monitoring, if indicated, based on your risk.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and feel free to contact us at 617-585-1284 with any questions, or to visit the CDC website for more information about the Ebola outbreak and FAQs at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html.

 

Norovirus Update (March 15, 2014)

As you are aware, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised the public of recent outbreaks of gastro-intestinal illness in the Boston area that are linked to Norovirus. Due to the highly contagious nature of this illness, the decision was made on 3/12/14 to notify the NEC community of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s recommendations.  In the Health Service at NEC, we have seen a few cases of gastro-intestinal illness but not more than what is normally encountered . All of the gastro-intestinal cases seen in the Health Service have fully recovered.  There have been no known hospitalizations due to gastro-intestinal illness.  The Health Center at NEC will keep you informed should an increase in gastrointestinal illness present  on campus.  We will be working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Heath in the event that it is determined that there is a possibility  of a Norovirus outbreak. Please be assured that we are doing everything possible on campus to limit the exposure and transmission of the Norovirus.

What you need to know about the Norovirus:

  • This is a highly contagious seasonal infection causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, diarrhea generally lasting a few days only. 
  • Most people recover in 1 to 2 days although sometimes infected people are unable to drink enough fluid to replace what they are losing from diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration which sometimes necessitates a visit to the emergency room for treatment with intravenous fluids.

 

  • Dehydration is more likely to occur in very young children, the elderly or those with a weakened immune system.

How to prevent infection:

  • The single best way to protect yourself from this virus is to wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing food or eating, and before placing your hands near your face or mouth.
  • Proper hand washing with soap and water is the preferred method for cleaning your hands.
  • According to the Boston Public Health Commission, Alcohol‐based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but are not advised unless soap and water is not available.

Please notify the NEC Health and Counseling Service at 617-585-1284 if you develop any nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea  so that we can advise you regarding symptom management and work with the Department of Public Health to track the potential spread of infection. This is particularly important for those students who are living in the residence hall.

Please click on the following links to learn more about Norovirus and Proper Hand washing: 

Please don’t hesitate to call the Health Service @ 617 585-1284 with any questions or concerns.

 

Norovirus Alert (March 12, 2014)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has advised the public of recent outbreaks of gastro-intestinal illness in the Boston area that are linked to Norovirus. Due to the highly contagious nature of this illness, it is important to recognize the symptoms when they occur.

What you need to know:

  • This is a highly contagious seasonal infection causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, diarrhea generally lasting a few days only.  
  • Most people recover in 1 to 2 days although sometimes infected people are unable to drink enough fluid to replace what they are losing from diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration which sometimes necessitates a visit to the emergency room for treatment with intravenous fluids.

 

  • Dehydration is more likely to occur in very young children, the elderly or those with a weakened immune system.

How to prevent infection:

  • The single best way to protect yourself from this virus is to wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing food or eating, and before placing your hands near your face or mouth.
  • Proper hand washing with soap and water is the preferred method for cleaning your hands.
  •  According to the Boston Public Health Commission, Alcohol‐based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but are not advised unless soap and water is not available.

Please notify the NEC Health and Counseling Service at 617-585-1284 if you develop any nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, so that we can advise you regarding symptom management and work with the Department of Public Health to track the potential spread of infection. This is particularly important for those students who are living in the residence hall.

Please click on the following links to learn more about Norovirus and Proper Hand washing: 

 

Please do not hesitate to contact the health service with any questions or concerns by calling 617-585-1284.

2015-01-20


I DON'T CARE MUCH ABOUT MUSIC. WHAT I LIKE IS SOUNDS. DIZZY GILLESPIE