Current Infectious Diseases and Flu
2014 Ebola Advisory
Please see the ebola test health alert for more information regarding the case confirmed in Dallas County.
The Angelo State University Health Clinic and the Center for International Studies would like to remind students traveling in or from western Africa of a potential health concern called Ebola hemorrhagic fever. 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).
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 failure and about 50 percent 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 IV fluid hydration, blood transfusion when necessary and possibly experimental medications.
Persons returning from an affected area but have not had direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic infected persons or animals, or objects that have been contaminated with body fluids, should monitor their health for 10 days. Those with a potential exposure should monitor their health for 21 days post exposure. Regardless, any traveler who becomes ill while traveling, even if only a fever, should consult a health-care provider immediately and tell him or her about their recent travel and potential contacts. Tell the provider about your symptoms prior to going to the office or emergency room so arrangements can be made, if necessary, to prevent transmission to others in the health-care setting.
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 university would like for everyone to have a happy and healthy arrival to ASU and encourages anyone who has traveled abroad to stay informed by following the Centers for Disease Control website.
2014 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Advisory
The Angelo State University Health Clinic and the Center for International Studies would like to remind students arriving from the Arabian Peninsula of a potential health concern called MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). MERS is a viral respiratory illness that causes severe acute symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some patients have had kidney failure and about 30 percent of people infected with MERS have died. MERS has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact and currently there is no vaccine or effective treatment.
Travelers from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula are encouraged to follow standard precautions, such as good hand washing and avoiding contact with people who are ill. If you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries, you should see a provider at the Health Clinic or your healthcare provider and be certain to mention your recent travel.
All travelers can take these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs and protect against colds, flu, and other illnesses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Be sure you are up-to-date with all of your shots, and if possible, see your health care provider at least 4–6 weeks before travel to get any additional shots.
If you are sick:
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid contact with other people to keep from infecting them. This might mean delaying your travel until you are well.
The university would like for everyone to have a happy and healthy arrival to ASU and encourages anyone who has traveled abroad to stay informed by reading the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization websites.
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Approximately 5–20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year.
- Flu season typically starts in the fall and peaks in January or February.
- Getting the flu vaccine is your best protection against the flu.
- Flu-related complications include pneumonia and dehydration.
- Illness from seasonal flu usually lasts one to two weeks.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. 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
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- 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.
- Flu Complications
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
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.
Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:
- what flu viruses are spreading,
- how much flu vaccine is available,
- when vaccine is available,
- how many people get vaccinated, and
- how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.
Over a period of 30 years between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.